Palestine: Peace & Prosperity Plan

July 7, 2019

[An improved economic situation was] “a necessary precondition to resolving what was previously an unsolvable political situation,” (Jared Kushner)

 

Peace to Prosperity” can be seen as the first part of long waited ”Deal of the century”, an “out of the box” plan made by by the Trump administration. It was made for public in the Bahrain Conference late June 2019. The plan is billed as “a vision to empower the Palestinian people to build a prosperous and vibrant Palestinian society.” The political portion of the U.S. plan, is coming after Israeli elections in September 2019.

The United States has now released the economic portion of its proposed Mideast peace plan. The plan calls for a $50 billion mix of grants, loans and private investments over ten years to develop a future Palestinian state’s infrastructure, telecommunications, tourism and health care industries. Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, states that have absorbed Palestinian refugees for decades, would receive nearly half the funding.

The U.S. initiative planed by the Trump administration is pursuing the goal of changing the Palestinian experience from a society of miserable “refugees” into a prosperous society.

The plan itself is laid out in a 40-page document that can be downloaded e.g. from White House webpage. The plan is divided into three parts: unleashing economic potential, empowering the Palestinian people, and enhancing Palestinian governance. Each section is around 10 pages long, which makes them appear equal in importance. The three sections are divided into sub-sections, where a total of 50 different topics are covered, from educational access to property rights and roads and rail connections. In this, the plan appears exhaustive.

Below some highlights from “Peace to Prosperity” plan, The White House  as source:

 

Näyttökuva (109)

 

The economy

The first initiative will UNLEASH THE ECONOMIC POTENTIAL of the Palestinians By

  • developing property and contract rights,
  • the rule of law and anti-corruption measures,
  • capital markets,
  • a pro-growth tax structure and a low-tariff scheme with reduced trade barriers.

This initiative envisions policy reforms coupled with strategic infrastructure investments that will improve the business environment and stimulate private-sector growth. Hospitals, schools, homes, and businesses will secure reliable access to affordable electricity, clean water, and digital services.

Billions of dollars of new investment will flow into various sectors of the Palestinian economy; businesses will have access to capital; and the markets of the West Bank and Gaza will be connected with key trading partners, including Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon.

The resulting economic growth has the potential to end the current unemployment crisis and transform the West Bank and Gaza into a center of opportunity.

 

The people

The second initiative will EMPOWER THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE to realize their ambitions, Through

  • new data-driven, outcomes-based education options at home,
  • expanded online education platforms,
  • increased vocational and technical training, and
  • the prospect of international exchanges,

this initiative will enhance and expand a variety of programs that directly improve the well-being of the Palestinian people. It will strengthen the Palestinian educational system and ensure that students can fulfill their academic goals and be prepared for the workforce.

Equally important, access to quality healthcare will be dramatically improved, as Palestinian hospitals and clinics will be outfitted with the latest healthcare technology and equipment.

New opportunities for cultural and recreational activities will improve the quality of life of the Palestinian people. From parks and cultural institutions, to athletic facilities and libraries, this initiative’s projects will enrich public life throughout the West Bank and Gaza.

 

 

The government

The third initiative will ENHANCE PALESTINIAN GOVERNANCE, improving the public sector’s ability to serve its citizens and enable private-sector growth. This initiative will support the public sector in undertaking the improvements and reforms necessary to achieve long-term economic success.

A commitment to

  • upholding property rights,
  • improving the legal and regulatory framework for businesses,
  • adopting a growth-oriented, enforceable tax structure, and
  • developing robust capital markets

will increase exports and foreign direct investment.

A fair and independent judicial branch will ensure this pro-growth environment is protected and that civil society flourishes.

New systems and policies will help bolster government transparency and accountability.

International partners will work to eliminate the Palestinian public sector’s donor dependency and put the Palestinians on a trajectory to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability.

Institutions will be modernized and made more efficient to facilitate the most effective delivery of essential services for the citizens.

With the support of the Palestinian leadership, this initiative can usher in a new era of freedom and opportunity for the Palestinian people and institutionalize the policies required for successful economic transformation.

 

The outcome

The plan aims to double the GDP of the Palestinians, and create one million jobs in 10 years timefrsame. Now the Palestinian GDP is larger than that of Somalia and South Sudan but smaller than Afghanistan’s. GDP per capita is around $2,200 in Ramallah, while it is more than $35,000 in Israel and $4,000 in Jordan. From 2012 to 2016, the Palestinian Authority received a total of more than $4 billion in aid, making them some of the “top recipients of non-military per capita aid in the world.”

With the potential to facilitate more than $50 billion in new investment over ten years, Peace to Prosperity represents the most ambitious and comprehensive international effort for the Palestinian people to date. It has the ability to fundamentally transform the West Bank and Gaza and to open a new chapter in Palestinian history—one defined, not by adversity and loss, but by freedom and dignity.

 

My view

The Trump administration has now kicked off an economic portion of its long-awaited plan for Arab-Israeli peace. 

The White House website called the document “a new vision for the Palestinian people and broader Middle East.” However Kushner’s approach – economic development before political settlement – is not totally unique for solving Israel-Palestine conflict. The US vision essentially turns the “refugees” from liabilities into assets, thereby taking the refugee issue off the table. There is an example from year 1959 when UNSG Dag Hammarskjold presented his initiative (UN General Assembly document no. A/4121) absorpt the refugees into the economy of the Arab region financed by oil revenues and international funds up to $2 billion.

The Hammarskjold and Kushner plans had/have similar intentions but faced also with same critics. Putting economic cooperation with Israel ahead of political cooperation was deemed unacceptable, no matter what benefits might create to the Palestinian people. The main objection by Palestinian Authority is that the plan offers an economic vision but postpones the political issues at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The difference is that some members of Arab League now are behind new plan and critics is coming mostly from the current leadership of Palestinian Authority. This makes it easier for Trump/Kushner also to implement the deal.

Comprehensive peace proposals were presented to Palestinian leadership three times in the past – once by the United Nations (1947) and twice by Israel (2000, 2008). All three times, Palestinian leadership rejected broad peace deals, while Israel said yes. Palestinian rejection – anchored in refusal to accept the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state – remains the primary obstacle to peace. As Israel made major concessions for peace with Egypt and Jordan , so probably Israel will do the same with Palestinians.

This time thee U.S. initiative has a wide regional support and probably it will gain support also among Palestinian population as it indeed gives “a vision to empower the Palestinian people to build a prosperous and vibrant Palestinian society.” So from my point of view the plan, also its political part, has good change to be implemented also without acceptance from current Palestinian leadership.

Israel and Palestinian Authority have negotiated two decades about solution based on Two-States, and now maybe more than ever one can claim that the roadmap towards it is the dead end. Instead the situation today is drifting towards One-State option, which is unwanted outcome for both parties. The outcome of the U.S. initiative may well be Two-States but the roadmap is new with regional and economy first approach and this in my opinion gives a better change for positive development and even solution this time.

The main sources for  this article have been: BESA, The White House and The Focus project.


This article first appeared in Conflicts by Ari Rusila website


Some Aspects About ”The Great Return March” Campaign

April 30, 2018

When we are brave, we are getting closer toward martyrdom, martyrdom, martyrdom…we say to Nikki Haley, to Netanyahu, to the criminal Lieberman we are afraid neither of death nor of martyrdom.” (Senior Hamas leader Ismail Radwan on 27th Apr. 2018)

“The Great Return March” Campaign has now been implemented a month and probably it will will climax on May 15 (Nakba Day) 2018 with aim of a massive procession of 100,000 Gazans storming the Israel security fence around Gaza. The main goal of this action is not immediately to kill Israelis but to get attention by getting Gazans killed themselves as when Israel must use lethal force to protect Israelis and Israeli border this will bring the Palestinian case back to the agenda and the media headlines will come back.

Behind the hypcrate statements from international organizations and behind the body count of main stream media I would like to highlight some other aspects of this ongoing play.

 

The Great Return March campaign exhausted?

It is no secret that the campaign of protests at the border has been a disappointment for Hamas, as it failed to meet the group’s initial expectations. The number of participants (average Gazans, no-Hams members) has diminished from week to week, and Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and his associates, including many high-ranking officials in the group’s military wing, feel that the campaign has exhausted itself. They say that if Hamas continues to conduct the campaign as it is currently being handled, it will erase any achievement it has managed to reach.

The popular turnout is diminishing week by week. Some 3,000 protesters turned out on 20th April, significantly smaller than the 10,000-15,000 at previous Friday’s demonstration. In the three weeks before, there were an estimated 20,000 and 30,000 protesters, respectively.

However some 10,000-14,000 Palestinians participated March on Border for fifth week [27.-28.4.2018] but only four (3 on Friday and 1 wounded died on Saturday) was killed and over 600 injured (174 wounded due use of live ammunition) – lower figures anyway than during first week.

According Hamas the weekly Gaza border riots will not end on May 15th, the day the Arabs mark as ‘Nakba’ or “Catastrophe” in Arabic (Israel’s rebirth as a state), but will continue through Ramadan, Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh said on 26th Apr 2018 according JewishPress. The events at the Gaza border “brought the Palestinian issue back to center stage, and revived the memory of the right of return,” Haniyeh said. He claimed the demonstrations would also have the effect of spoiling the Israeli celebrations marking the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, as well as the Jerusalem Day celebrations on the day prior (May 13), marking Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six Day War. Haniyeh added that the demonstrations would no longer be limited to the Gaza border, but are to be expanded and spread throughout Judea and Samaria. At a press conference held by the “supreme national authority of the great return march,” it was stated that on May 15, 2018, all the demonstrators would move towards the security fence to cut through the barbed wire, calling on the international community to protect them (al-Aqsa, April 17, 2018).

A protest in Khan Younis on March 30. The photographer, Yasser Murtaja, was killed in a protest in the same location the following week. Aerial image by Yasser Murtaja, Ain Media

Behind body count

According The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center the Hamas-controlled ministry of health in the Gaza Strip reported that 40 [now 44] Palestinians have been killed during the “great return march” events since March 30, 2018, when the rioting began along the Gaza Strip-Israel border (updated to April 25, 2018); 32 of the 40 Palestinians killed (80%) were terrorist operatives.

One significant aspect with ongoing fence-storming campaign is that not a single rocket has been fired into Israel from Gaza in over two months, yet since March 30 during fence-storming more Palestinians in Gaza have been killed than it did in the previous 16 months, during which time militants launched over 60 rockets and mortars. Another aspect more: Compared the death ratio of civilians vs militants, it is now 1:5 as during previous Gaza conflicts/wars it was about 2:1 so this ”peaceful” demonstration seems to be much better for civilian population as terrorists can not use them so much as human shields than during previous conflicts.

Israeli army leaflets dropped over Gaza to warn Palestinian demonstrators not to approach the border fence

All violent deaths are not made by IDF. Arab media outlets reported that the explosion occurred in the town of Beit Lahiya killing 55-year-old Mohammed Nimr Maqadmah – a member of the Hamas terror group’s military wing, it is unclear if Maqadmah was killed in a targeted killing, or in an accidental explosion while building a bomb. Local media outlets initially claimed the explosion was the result of an Israeli drone attack, but subsequent reports by Arab news sources suggested the explosion may have been an accident. Three other people were injured in the explosion, one of which is reportedly Maqadmah’s son. On Sunday night, a Hamas terrorist from the Al-Qassam Brigades was killed during a tunnel collapse in the central Gaza Strip. The terrorist was identified as 33-year-old Tha’er Nayef az-Zare’ey. Source: Arutz Sheva  , more in report by The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

In addition there was a funeral of Fadi al-Batsh in the Jabalya refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on 27th April where thousands attended. Al-Batsh, a Palestinian engineer working for Hamas on weapons projects was killed in Malaysia and whose death was attributed by foreign media outlets to the Mossad.

Identities of Palestinians killed during the “great return march” who were terrorist operatives or affiliated with terrorist organizations

A quarrel inside Hamas

Sources in Egypt and within Hamas confirm that a quarrel over an Egyptian initiative to end Gaza border marches has split Hamas into two opposing camps, Israel Hayom recently learned from senior Hamas sources. Tensions within Hamas’ leadership have caused a rift between the two strongest and influential people in the movement today – Ismail Haniyeh, the political bureau chief, and Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Sinwar is displeased with the fact that Haniyeh has chosen to remain in Gaza. This decision breaks with years of tradition, as his predecessor, former political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal, managed the movement’s affairs from Syria before moving operations to Qatar. Sinwar has complained to his associates that Haniyeh was intervening in internal affairs.

The rift exacerbated an already strained relationship between the two “exploded” after Haniyeh snubbed Egyptian efforts to discuss a possible prisoner swap deal with Israel and an easing of the blockade on Gaza in exchange for a cessation of the border demonstrations. A delegation of Egyptian intelligence and security officials visiting Gaza submitted a proposal to Haniyeh. According to a senior Hamas official, Hamas then received an ostensibly improved offer from Egypt to halt the campaign of border demonstrations in exchange for the possibility of significantly advancing a potential prisoner exchange deal with Israel, in addition to its offer of opening the Rafah terminal and easing the blockade on Gaza.

Haniyeh reportedly rejected the Egyptian proposal without consulting the heads of the movement or even divulging its details to the organization’s leadership. “Not only did Haniyeh reject the improved proposal,” a senior Egyptian intelligence official told Israel Hayom, “he even rejected the invitation we gave him to come to Cairo with a delegation of Hamas officials to discuss details of the deal to stop the marches on the border and the possibility of a prisoner exchange.”

High-ranking Hamas officials, including Sinwar, were furious with Haniyeh and had accused him of coordinating Hamas policy with Tehran rather than the group’s own leadership. According the Egyptian official “Sinwar exploded with rage and screamed at Haniyeh,” the official said “when he learned that [Haniyeh] wasn’t planning to accept the Egyptian delegation’s proposal.”

Meanwhile, a senior Hamas official in Gaza told Israel Hayom there are voices in Hamas that argue that the border marches have run their course in their current format and that the diminishing number of demonstrators from week to week is actually undermining the potential for the grand finale demonstration. The official said that Sinwar and other high-ranking Hamas figures share this view. Furthermore, an associate close to Sinwar told Israel Hayom that the Sinwar camp believes that if the border marches continue in their current format it could undo any progress that has been made thus far and that it could undermine the general Palestinian interests as well. According to Sinwar, Haniyeh made a terrible mistake by rejecting the first Egyptian proposal and an even bigger mistake in rejecting the revised proposals.

sinai option by Ari RusilaSinwar’s associates say that while he has worked tirelessly, in conjunction with other Hamas figures, to rehabilitate the group’s relations with Egypt, Haniyeh undermined Sinwar’s efforts by offending the Egyptians’ honor when he refused an invitation to come to Cairo to discuss an Egyptian proposal for Hamas.

The relations between Egypt and Hamas have been one core question in (partial) Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Besides planned Hamas-Israel ceasefire deal Egypt has a decisive role if sc ‘Sinai option’ (more in Sinai Option again) will go further as partial solution to conflict. Also even without these kind progress Egypt’s actions with Rafah crossing have great importance for welfare of Gaza population.

Long truce?

Jerusalem Post   reports  that European groups recently passed on to Hamas a wide-reaching proposition to solve the humanitarian crises in Gaza. The proposed deal is that Hamas would relinquish armed struggle against Israel for at least five years and in exchange, an EU-created institution would pay the salaries of the Gaza strip civic administration and run all humanitarian affairs there.

This offer is unique in including an assumption of comprehensive authorities by a European body that would operate in the Gaza strip. For Hamas, it may be tempting that the financial aid for health, education and developing public administration would come directly from a European body and not via the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, currently controlled by Mahmoud Abbas, as is currently the practice. Hamas refused the demands made by Abbas that the security, legal and tax collecting powers in the Gaza strip be handed over to the PA as a condition for national reconciliation.

The Hamas negotiation team is reportedly still studying the European offer before responding to it. Officially Hamas denies any offer from EU and there is no confirmation about neither from EU.

2015 “no-paper”

The concept of connecting wide-scale humanitarian and financial aid to Gaza with Hamas rejecting terrorism and violence is not new and it might be possible that also this time the question is about unofficial talks with or without ”white papers”. For example few years ago according Israel Hayom [18th Aug. 2015] as well the Times of Israel reported that Hamas and Israel essentially agreed on a long-term cease-fire. A “comprehensive” agreement between Hamas and Israel included e.g. lifting of an blockade placed on the Gaza Strip in return for a long-term ceasefire. The gist of the deal is that Israel will end the blockade and allow thousands of Palestinian day laborers to enter Israel. Gaza will import items through a Cyprus port overseen by NATO representatives (until a floating offshore port can be developed) and cease all rocket fire and tunneling for eight years. A prisoner swap may be in the works too. I predicted then that this kind of Hamas-Israel Deal could pave way for the ‘Cold Peace Solution’ and this  new EU proposal could do the same job if true and agreed.  [More in Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal  and  Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystander ]

PA

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas does not have a mandate from his people to reach any agreement with Israel: his term in office expired in January 2009. For Abbas last Hamas-Fatah deal is a boost to his sagging popularity and same time a likely blow to any challenge from Mohammed Dahlan and other potential rivals if elections go ahead.

Earslier Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) reportedly told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept the plan or resign. It is likely that MbS did this to hasten the sidelining of the Palestinian issue so that he could facilitate normalisation with Israel.

The Kingdom of Jordan began the process of revoking the Jordanian citizenship of about 30 Palestinian Authority and Fatah officials and their families, London-based Arabic language newspaper Raialyoum reported according Jpost and Alaraby. The officials who are slated to lose their citizenship include Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Palestinian Authority negotiator Ahmed Qurei (“Abu Ala”). They also stated that there would be major changes in the visa arrangements for entry into Jordan of the senior officials, granting them only temporary visitor’s rights. Jordan granted citizenship to Palestinians in the West Bank after extending sovereignty to the territory following its capture in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. King Hussein officially severed Jordan’s legal and administrative ties to the West Bank in 1988, relinquishing claims to sovereignty and withdrawing Jordanian nationality from Palestinian residents.

Epiloque

Today it seems clear that the Great Return March” is not a peaceful demonstration. Gazans are trying to infiltrate into Israel, damage its infrastructure and kill Israelis; it is a massive attempt by dozens of rioters to breach a border fence less than a kilometer from Israeli civilians.From my viewpoint the IDF operates to protect Israeli civilians and will not allow harm to be done to the security infrastructure that protects them. According IDF the snipers only fire under direct order from a battalion commander or officer of higher rank to neutralize situations in which the fence could be breached.What would be the alternative as a breach would require the IDF to open deadly fire at hundreds or thousands of Gazans trying to break into Israel.

Interesting detail with ongoing ”Return March” is that Hamas used that exact same tactic to breach the Egyptian border 10 years ago. On January 22, 2008, a group of unarmed Hamas demonstrators–mostly women–rushed the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt and managed to break through. That night, Hamas operatives planted explosives along the border wall in several places, creating huge gaps in it. The next day, anywhere from 200,000 to 750,000 Gazans (estimates vary) poured through those breaches into Egypt.

In 2005, the Palestinians of Gaza had a choice. They could have used their newly acquired freedom to build a strong economy in that coastal and fertile land, or they could have used that freedom to fight Israel. The fact that they chose the latter is not Israel’s responsibility, and it is not too late for Gaza’s Palestinians to choose a different path.

Israel could independently implement a ‘Cold Peace Solution’, a minimal level of peace relations, to ensure its character as a Jewish and democratic state, by fixing a border between Israel and a future Palestinian state in the West Bank unilaterally.

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila

 

Some of my previous related articles:

Western Donors Still Funding Terrorists

Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal

Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystander

Gaza Update: Hamas Downfalling – IDF Prepared

Gaza Blockade – It’s Egypt not Israel!

Hamas’ Relations With Egypt Worsened

 

 

 


Appendix 1: Israel, EU and Palestine

 

 


Appendix 2: Media persons as terrorists

On April 25, 2018, the death of media person Ahmed Abu Hussein was reported. He was seriously wounded during the “great return march” events on Friday, April 13, 2018, while covering a demonstration near the border fence in the Jabalia area. Due to the complicated nature of his wound he was transferred to a hospital in Ramallah, and from there to the Intensive Care unit in the Tel Hashomer hospital in Israel (Ma’an, April 26, 2018). He died from his wounds in the hospital.

An examination of Ahmed Abu Hussein’s identity revealed that in addition to being a media person, he was also a PFLP member. That was manifested in several ways: the PFLP’s military wing issued formal death notices for him; at his funeral red PFLP flags were carried; and the Ahmed Abu Hussein’s Facebook page posted notices glorifying the PFLP, its leaders and terrorist attacks (such as the assassination of Israeli minister Rehavam Ze’evi).

Ahmed Abu Hussein was the second media person killed during Palestinians riots near the border fence. Before him, press photographer Yasser Murtaja was killed on April 6, 2018, while covering the march. Like Ahmed Abu Hussein, Murtaja had a double identity: in addition to being a media person, he was also an operative in Hamas’ security forces. The double identities of media personnel who are also operatives in terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip were widely exposed and documented by the ITIC during Operation Protective Edge. Source: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

Remark:  Also this PFLP terrorist  ( Ahmed Abu Hussein)  got treatment in the Intensive Care unit in the Tel Hashomer hospital in Israel


Appendix 3:  Compensation

Terrorists and their leaders get good compensation for their activities:

 

 


Update: Mideast Peace Process

July 5, 2016

ISRPALMideast peace process, or more precisely negotiations to solve Israel-Palestine conflict, has been in deep freeze nearly two years. Officially the international community is repeating the need for talks to implement Two-State-Solution, however the main stakeholders –leaders of Israel and Palestinian Authority – have not even met despite that offices of PM Netanyahu and President Abbas are almost neighbors and despite that outside facilitators have tried to organize informal meetings when both leaders have been same time in same foreign capital.

If direct or facilitated negotiations don’t start so the alternatives are the zero-option, unilateral decisions, regional or part-solutions. The zero-option describes the present situation which in course of time might be drifting towards One-state solution. Unilateral decisions can be made both parties, at best – if they are constructive – they can lead part-solutions or even in long run to Two-State. Regional solution might be e.g. Three-State solution where Gaza will be returned to Egypt and main part of West Bank to Jordania, like they were before Six-Days-War ( more in ”The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict” ). One pragmatic part-solution could be Hamas-Israel deal about long term ceasefire or implementing Sinai option or Palestinian-Jordanian confederation or both.

 

IPConf

 

 

The Quartet Report

The Middle East Quartet is a foursome of nations and international and supranational entities involved in mediating the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Quartet are the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia. The group was established in Madrid in 2002. (More about the Quartet: Office of the Quartet )

Mideast_quartetThe newest report was published on 1st July 2016 and describes in its eight pages the stalled peace process without any new initiatives. The core point of the report is that according it the Israeli policy “is steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution.””This raises legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions, which are compounded by the statements of some Israeli ministers that there should never be a Palestinian state”. In addition Israel should stop building settlements, denying Palestinian development and designating land for exclusive Israeli use that Palestinians seek for a future state, the Middle East peace “Quartet” recommended. The Quartet said urgent affirmative steps needed to be taken to “prevent entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict.”

The report claims Israel had taken for its exclusive use some 70 percent of Area C, which makes up 60 percent of the occupied West Bank and includes the majority of agricultural lands, natural resources and land reserves. Under the Oslo accords of the mid-1990s, Israel retains full control over Area C, where large tracts have been declared closed military areas.“Israel should implement positive and significant policy shifts, including transferring powers and responsibilities in Area C,” the Quartet report said.

Also amid a spike in violence, the Quartet criticized Palestinian leaders for “not consistently and clearly” condemning terrorist attacks and said illicit arms build up and militant activities in Gaza – controlled by Islamist group Hamas – must stop. The whole report Report of the Middle East Quartet – the European External Action Service in EAAS page.

 

The Israeli view

The statement of Israel government welcomes the Quartet’s recognition of the centrality of Palestinian incitement and violence to the perpetuation of the conflict. This culture of hatred poisons minds and destroys lives and stands as the single greatest obstacle to progress towards peace. The report unfortunately says nothing about the payments made by the Palestinian leadership to terrorists and their families. The graver the violence, the greater the payment. This Palestinian practice must stop.

Israel shares the Quartet’s historical commitment to advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace through direct, bilateral negotiations without preconditions.

In previous agreements, Israel and the Palestinians committed to discuss every difficult issue exclusively through direct, bilateral negotiations. Nevertheless, the record shows a history of repeated Palestinian rejection of offers to negotiate and compromise from Israeli governments across the political spectrum. Israel cannot negotiate peace with itself. According government statement “We regret the failure of the Quartet to address the real core of the conflict: the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people in any boundaries.”

From government statement:

The report also perpetuates the myth that Israeli construction in the West Bank is an obstacle to peace. When Israel froze settlements, it did not get peace. When Israel uprooted every settlement in Gaza, it did not get peace. It got war. It is troubling that the Quartet appears to have adopted the position that the presence of Jews living in the West Bank somehow prevents reaching a two-state solution. The presence of nearly 1.8 million Arabs in Israel isn’t a barrier to peace; it is a testament to our pluralism and commitment to equality.

Israel will continue to strive for a genuine, negotiated peace based on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s vision of two states for two peoples. While the report includes numerous factual and policy assertions with which we take issue, Israel will discuss with the Quartet envoys ways to explore moving toward this end.

Source: Government Press Office

 

Israel cannot negotiate peace with itself

The Palestinian Authority President rejected again the opportunity to meet with Israel’s President during a visit to Brussels by both leaders. With both Rivlin and Abbas in Brussels at the same time, the Europeans, very cautiously, proposed to explore the possibility of a Rivlin-Abbas encounter.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz attempted to broker the meeting between Presidents Reuven Rivlin and Mahmoud Abbas 23.6.2016, with President Rivlin keen to sit down with Abbas. President Rivlin said: “I was happy to welcome the initiative by the representative of the EU to set a meeting between me and President Abbas who is also visiting Brussels this very day.”

During a press conference alongside European Union (EU) foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, the Israeli president said he was “very sorry to learn that he [Abbas] rejected such a meeting,” and found it “strange” that Abbas “refused again and again to meet with Israeli leaders”.

President Rivlin, who addressed the European Parliament and pledged Israeli support for the two-state solution, added: “We can talk. We can talk directly and find a way to build confidence.” Source: BICOM

European leaders had high hopes for Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s June 20-23 visit to Brussels, and none of them tried to hide it. Indeed, the scope of Rivlin’s visit was practically unprecedented. Crisscrossing the Belgian capital, Rivlin met successively with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Belgian King Philippe, President of the European Council Donald Tusk, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, and the EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini. In between, Rivlin was also welcomed at the European Parliament, where he gave an address in Hebrew. But unlike the other political leaders Abbas rejected meeting with Rivlin.

 

Unilateral decisions?

One provocative view to issue

One provocative view to issue

From my perspective a new framework is needed, even if some apparent negotiations start the outcome probably will be a placebo to status quo.  Earlier I have referred two new leftist initiatives in my article Constructive Unilateralism: Leftist Approach to Israel-Palestine Conflict  – ‘it’s in our hands’ by Omer Bar-Lev, an MK for the Zionist Union and ‘Constructive unilateralism’ by Blue White Future, leftist think tank – which both in my opinion are steps forward and also to the right direction as well including required new roadmap for better future. A quote from Omer Bar-Lev, an MK for the Zionist Union. He concludes:

If Israel wants to be a democratic state, which it does, then it has to either grant them full citizenship rights, which will subsequently destroy Zionism (one state for two nations) or separate from the Palestinians (two states for two nations). In that case, Israel can keep the Zionist spirit. Then, it is for the Palestinians to decide to create their Palestinian State, which is in their interests and they will make their own decisions.

On January 2016, the leader of Israel’s opposition and head of the Zionist Union party Isaac Herzog, unveiled an alternative approach to the issue of Israel’s nearly 49-year old presence in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. The main point of Herzog’s plan is, that Israel will complete the security barrier around the major settlement blocs. “We will be here and you, Palestinians, will be there,” Herzog said. “Live your lives, improve your economy, create employment. The blocs under Israeli sovereignty will be part of the permanent solution. They will serve as recipients of settlers from outside the major blocs.” (more in Herzog’s Plan: Security Barrier Around the Major Settlement Blocs of West Bank )

From Israeli side unilateral withdrawal and unilateral annexation are the main strategy options related to West Bank. I think that unilateral withdrawal is both feasible and doable; its main benefit might be that Israel can deside it individually. Sure this option is promoted by Isaac Herzog, leader of the Zionist Union, but I understand that the proposal has support in addition to center-left also from center and center-right in Israeli’s political sphere.

The Palestinian Authority has already taken constructive unilateral steps by seeking United Nations recognition as a state and building the institutions of statehood in the West Bank.

 

Regional solutions?

The best possibilities to develop negotiated peace process might be in a regional peace track proposed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in which Egypt would facilitate direct peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians as well as between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Egypt, one of few Arab countries that have diplomatic relations with Israel, is a close ally of the Palestinians and enjoys good relations with Arab states which will be needed to make any potential concessions to Israel to reach a peace deal. Israelis and Palestinians have both been speaking to Sisi’s government about playing a role in talks.

clinton parameters

Cairo wants to build upon the areas of agreement already reached between Israelis and Palestinians during the Kerry-led talks in 2013-2014 and extensive security discussions between the two sides. It’s based on the premise that both sides have had extensive discussions, have discussed various parameters and know what is needed for an agreement. The Egyptians also want to revive the 2003 Arab Peace Initiative originally put forward by Saudi Arabia, in which Arab states could make some gestures to Israel in order to secure better conditions for the Palestinians. According CNN an Egyptian official said Netanyahu has shown a “sense of receptivity” to such a process led by Israel’s Arab neighbors.

Part-solutions

On November 2015 Jerusalem Post reported   that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was claiming that Israel and Hamas have been conducting direct negotiations to expand the Gaza Strip so that it would include some 1,000 square kilometers of Sinai. At its core, the Egyptian initiative proposes expanding the Gaza Strip to five times its current size and settling all the Palestinian refugees in a state to be established there. Under the initiative, this state will be demilitarized, the Palestinian Authority would be granted autonomy in the Palestinian cities in the West Bank in exchange for relinquishing the Palestinian demand to return to 1967 borders. (More in Sinai Option again )

Earlier in August 2015 it was reported in the Times of Israel, that Hamas and Israel have essentially agreed on a long-term cease-fire. Hamas is about to sign a “comprehensive” agreement with Israel for the lifting of an eight-year blockade placed on the Gaza Strip in return for a long-term ceasefire One part of the deal is now coming to reality with new plan of Gaza seaport (more in Gaza Seaport – A Threat or Change and background in Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal ) Gaza seaport has been one aspect with reconciliation talks between Israel and Turkey which talks are now proved to be a success.An expression of new warmer Israeli-Turkish relations was on July 4th, 2016 , as the first truck from the Turkish transport ships arrived from Ashdod Port to the Kerem Shalom crossing. The truck contained a shipment of toys (dolls and teddy bears) as well diapers in cartons bearing the Turkish flag. Ministry of Defense Crossing Authority personnel and COGAT officials unloaded the goods and are preparing them for transfer into Gaza. Source: Ministry of Defense

In my opinion annexing part of Sinai to Gaza as might partly solve Arab-Israeli Conflict as well Hamas-Israel Deal could pave way for the ‘Cold Peace Solution’. With this context the Gaza seaport is from point of view a positive step forward.

Jordan is Palestine Map low resInstead ‘knife intifada’ and no-talks policy the Palestinians could now think outside the box and reopen talks about the Palestinian-Jordanian confederation structure. The Palestinian-Jordanian confederation means the establishment of two states for two peoples, after the establishment of the Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines. This confederation solution was first raised by Jordan in 1972, but the PLO categorically rejected it in the same year. According to the confederation system, there would be two capitals — Jerusalem for the Palestinians and Amman for Jordanians — a centralized judiciary and one armed force led by the Jordanian king, one centralized council of ministers and one national assembly elected by the two peoples. The state should allow citizens to have full freedom of movement between the two regions.

My bottom line

The components of Two-State solution have been roughly clear last two decades – see e.g. Clinton Parameters – but the final agreement is still missing. The international pressure might lead to talks or negotiations again, with or without outside facilitators, but probably with the same outcome than earlier. So from my perspective unilateral actions are steps forward and in my opinion also to the right direction.

If peace negotiations don’t start, they fail again or regional solutions can’t be realized this time so from my viewpoint Israel could independently implement what I have called a ‘Cold Peace Solution’, a minimal level of peace relations, where Israel would annex main settlements from West-bank inside the security fence and return to negotiations about other than so solved border issue when both parties feel need to make a long term deal. This solution in my opinion is the best way forward and it even might be possible to implement. If unilateral solutions are made in the framework of constructive unilateralism so this approach might be the right roadmap towards more permanent two-state solution.

Israeli-Palestinian conflict roadmaps to peace

Related articles:

Gaza Seaport – A Threat or Change

Israel’s 5 Strategy Options Regarding West Bank After Abbas

Constructive Unilateralism: Leftist Approach to Israel-Palestine Conflict

Herzog’s Plan: Security Barrier Around the Major Settlement Blocs of West Bank

Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Gaza’s Tunnel War Continues On All Fronts

Sinai Option again

Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal

Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystander

Gaza Blockade – It’s Egypt not Israel!


Constructive Unilateralism: Leftist Approach to Israel-Palestine Conflict

September 16, 2015
One provocative view to issue

One provocative view to issue by OilEmpire.us

Throughout two decades of the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” direct negotiation has been perceived as the only paradigm that can lead to an agreement. But that paradigm has made direct negotiation as the goal in itself instead of the means to reach an agreement. Further, the failure to reach an agreement has given excuses to the rejectionists and extremists on both sides, allowing them to blame the other party for failure to progress, and destroying the belief within the respective societies that an agreement is possible in the foreseeable future.

With this history the only conclusion to solve Israel-Palestine conflict is to find a new approach to the peace process. Recently Israeli Left has done exactly that.

Some background

A couple of decades the international community has preached a doctrine of ‘Two states for two peoples’, without any progress for its implementation. Sure also in my opinion a two-state solution might be possible. The final status agreement has been very close at least since Beilin-Abu Mazen understandings/agreement/plan (1995) where nearly all issues were agreed. The Olmert proposal (2008) was probably the last serious try. (both plans can be found from my document library   ) The parameters of the end-game have been clear the whole time but despite of a number of negotiations the final agreement is missing.

Paramet

 

On 10th Sep. 2015 Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again told David Cameron that he is ready to return to peace talks with the Palestinians without pre-conditions, during their meeting at 10 Downing Street: “I want to say here in 10 Downing Street, and reaffirm again, that I am ready to resume direct negotiations with the Palestinians with no conditions whatsoever … and I’m willing to do so immediately,” said Netanyahu according BICOM.

b-zn0a5wkae2wn8Same time the actions of European Parliament do not have any sense of reality. EU’s motion of labelling Israeli goods from the disputed territories is giving supporting message to the growing anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish sentiments in Europe, while EU instead should promote cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. When the whole MENA region risks falling into an abyss of war and genocide EU choose to attack the only stable democracy in the region, namely Israel. And this attack even does not help Palestinians as its effect might be totally opposite. (P.S: more background in “Top Priority of EU Foreign Policy: A New ‘Jude’ Badge” ) Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said that the EU motion [EP 10th Sep. 2015] was “discriminatory with a sharp smell of boycott,” adding that “under the guise of a technical procedure, this is an attempt to force a diplomatic solution instead of encouraging the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.” EU claims that imaginary Gaza blockade is the reason for slow reconstruction in Gaza strip while the main reason is corruption and misuse of funds. (More e.g. in Instead of Gaza’s Reconstruction Donor Aid Finances Terrorism And Corruption and a wider picture about non-existent skills of Palestinian authority to deliver international donor aid to beneficiaries one can find from my article Palestine – Placebo effect for people and society with 20 bn bucks)

 

Leftist options

With background described above the only conclusion to solve Israel-Palestine conflict is to find a new approach to the peace process. Recently Israeli Left has done exactly that.

Leader of the Israeli opposition – and Labor/Zionist Union – Isaac Herzog has proposed to divide the land between the Israelis and Palestinians. Following a quote from interview of Isaac Herzog in Fathom :

I speak in a very frank and open manner. I believe that Israel must move for peace. We must move towards the division of the land between the Palestinians and us in order to maintain the future of Israel as a Jewish democratic state. I say this very bluntly. For example, on the issue of Jerusalem, I don’t rule out the possibility that as part of a political solution there will be government institutions of the Palestinian state in one of the Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem. I don’t think that violates our loyalty, love and affection for Jerusalem. In the eastern Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem there reside over 300,000 Palestinians. They are not seen as part of Israel, and rightly so. I think that we need to be innovative and bold and tell the truth to the people. Part of the truth is that in order for Zionism to prevail and to succeed we must make sure that Gush Etzion and Maaleh Adumim will be part of Israel for ever. This needs to be done by way of a swap of land with the Palestinians. If we reach an agreement to separate from the Palestinians, this will be a victory for Zionism.

Already 2012 then Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that Israel should consider imposing the borders of a future Palestinian state, becoming the most senior government official to suggest bypassing a stagnant peace process.

More recently Zionist Union MK Hilik Bar, who heads the Knesset Caucus to Resolve the Arab-Israeli Conflict, unveiled a proposed diplomatic framework, which he says would resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Bar’s framework calls on Israel to first recognise a Palestinian state at the United Nations, so long as the Palestinian Authority (PA) agrees not to use such status to undermine bilateral talks and accepts the concept of two nation states. Negotiations would then ensue over borders, Jerusalem, refugees and security arrangements. In addition to direct Israeli-Palestinian talks, Bar envisages that Israel would simultaneously enter into dialogue with other Arab countries and issue a formal response to the Arab Peace Initiative. Lähde: BICOM

These initiatives are however in my opinion too general; fortunately for peace there is now also two options which go further in seeking solution for Israel-Palestine conflict.

 

‘it’s in our hands’

Omer Bar-Lev is an MK for the Zionist Union. He was a commander in one of the IDF’s elite units – Sayeret Matkal – before becoming a high tech entrepreneur and an MK in 2013. In a speech Bar-Lev gave in the Knesset to mark the 37th anniversary of the Entebbe operation, to which he participated, he said that we need a diplomatic Entebbe, meaning that the entire Entebbe operation was built around improvisation and initiative. In that same speech he said to the prime minister:

Take an example from your brother [commander in Entebbe, killed in action there]. The operation in Entebbe was an expression of the Zionist spirit to move forward always, never to be passive and never to be dragged into situations beyond our control; to be bold, innovative and creative. Where is all that now? Even Israel’s approach to security lacks creativity. It lacks initiative. (Source : Al-Monitor )

Smart-Quotes-39823-statusmind.comAccording Omer Bar-Lev the basis of the vision of Zionism is that Israel should be the homeland for the Jewish people. In order for that to be achieved, there has to be a clear Jewish majority in Israel. As long as Israel wants to be part of the enlightened Western world – part of the democratic world – it must give equal rights to all human beings living in the borders of the country. To keep the Zionist vision alive, Bar-Lev proposes that Israel has to separate from the Palestinians as now, Israel is controlling, one way or another, 2.8 million Palestinians in the West Bank who don’t have equal rights and who don’t vote for the Knesset. His conclusion:

If Israel wants to be a democratic state, which it does, then it has to either grant them full citizenship rights, which will subsequently destroy Zionism (one state for two nations) or separate from the Palestinians (two states for two nations). In that case, Israel can keep the Zionist spirit. Then, it is for the Palestinians to decide to create their Palestinian State, which is in their interests and they will make their own decisions.

Bar-Lev calls his program as ‘it’s in our hands.’ According him to achieve separation,

the best way to do it is through an agreement with the Palestinians, for sure. The two sides would agree to make their compromises, sign an agreement, and peace and love will reign forever. However, the probability of both sides, simultaneously, producing leaders who can make that strategic decision, and that strategic compromise, is very low. Israel cannot put its future in the hands of the other side. If we had a partner, then great, we should make an agreement and move forward and sign a two-state solution. However, even if the other side is not prepared to do so, Israel has a lot of steps it can take to begin the separation from the Palestinians. Therefore, I called my initiative – ‘it’s in our hands.’

Omer Bar-Lev represents a three step program to implement the separation:

  • The first step would be to stop building settlements outside the blocs. It is not in Israel’s interest . I’m not sure when the new future will come, either in one year or 10 years, but when it will come, these settlements will not be part of Israel.
  • The second step is to pass a bill in the Knesset to compensate any Israeli settler living outside of the blocs, once he or she decides to resettle in Israel. In order to do so, we have to build the infrastructure within Israel; we have to relocate tens of thousands of settlers and this will take time.
  • A third step is to enlarge the areas of the West Bank where the Palestinians hold full responsibility and formal independence.

(Source: Fathom )

The plan titled “It’s in Our Hands,” by Omer Bar-Lev calls for Israel to unilaterally define its own borders to ensure its security, would keep control of all of Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley and bequeath about 60 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians, evacuating 35,000 Jewish settlers — less than 10 percent of the total. This plan might be provocative but for me it seems to be realistic tactic towards two-state solution.

 

Constructive unilateralism

According to the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) policy recommendations a couple of years ago, Israel must apply a top-down and bottom-up approach to the conflict, two efforts simultaneously: 1) Continue to pursue negotiations; and 2) Preparation of a viable, national-scale plan to relocate up to 100,000 settlers – currently living outside of the settlement blocks and in areas Israel will eventually withdraw from – within Israel proper in a compassionate, well organized way. (More in INSS publication ‘The Political Process: Plan A, Plan B, and What Lies Between Them’ by Udi Dekel, Anat Kurz, and Gilead Sher )

headerENGAn Israeli NGO Blue White Future,(“BWF”) is a non-partisan political movement founded in 2009 by Admiral (ret.) Ami Ayalon, the former Director of the Israel Security Agency, Colonel (res.) Gilead Sher, a prominent advocate and former senior peace negotiator, Orni Petruschka, a hi-tech entrepreneur and former IAF fighter pilot. Blue White Future seeks to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a “two states for two peoples” solution by facilitating the relocation of settlers so that all Israel’s citizens reside within secure permanent borders that guarantee a Jewish majority. BWF also seeks to advance the processes necessary to meet this goal, through the projects it runs and through its proposed policy plan, and thus provide security and prosperity for generations to come.

According BWF  Israel should prepare for a reality of two states for two people, most notably by declaring that it does not have claims of sovereignty over most of the occupied territories, and by planning and acting accordingly, including preparing for the relocation of settlers residing east of the separation barrier to Israel proper.  Specifically, its policy should include the following components (Source: BWF ):

  • • Israel should consistently strive for a permanent agreement according to the principles of the Clinton parameters and other like-minded proposals, while pursuing an unconditional track, independent of any progress that may take place through negotiations.
  • • Israel should refrain from building new settlements and from expanding existing settlements east of the separation barrier and in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Construction could continue in the settlement blocs and in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
  • • Israel could consider transferring areas east of the barrier to Palestinian control in a gradual, monitored and supervised manner. [Note that this part requires coordination and therefore is optional].
  • • Israel should enact a law that allows for voluntary evacuation, compensation and eventual absorption of settlers presently residing on the eastern side of the security barrier, to encourage settlers who wish to relocate within the green line or within settlement blocs, regardless of whether an agreement with the Palestinians is concluded.
  • • Israel should prepare a national plan for the absorption of the settlers who would relocate to Israel proper, whether before or after an agreement is signed.  Such a plan should have urban, vocational, social, psychological and other appropriate components.

The Palestinian Authority has already taken constructive unilateral steps by seeking United Nations recognition as a state and building the institutions of statehood in the West Bank. Neither action contradicted the two-state vision. Although many Israelis and the Obama administration objected to the bid for statehood, it could have moved us closer to that outcome had Israel welcomed it rather than fought it. After all, Israel could negotiate more easily with a state than with a nonstate entity like the Palestinian Authority. And statehood would undermine the Palestinians’ argument for implementing a right of return for Palestinian refugees, since the refugees would have a state of their own to return to.

Example from history - 2015

Example from history – 2005

BWF proposes that the international community should adopt a paradigm that allows all stakeholders – Israel, Palestinians, the US and the other players – to take independent steps that will advance a reality of two states. Once the parameters are on the table, any independent step taken in the future can be clearly evaluated regarding whether they moves us closer to the reality of two states, and are thus considered constructive, or take parties further away.

For example, according BWF, a long-term truce between Fatah and Hamas, allowing for the rehabilitation and reconstruction in Gaza while preventing arming, is a positive step; a resurrection of Palestinian violence is evidently in the wrong direction. Similarly, an Israeli cessation of settlement activity outside of the settlement blocs, as well as preparing for the relocation of the settlers who currently live there, are constructive steps, while expansion of settlements outside the large blocs is not.

 

My conclusion

The components of Two-State solution have been roughly clear last two decades – see ‘Parameters of the Israel-Palestine Conflict’ on the beginning of this article – but the final agreement is still missing. The international pressure might lead to talks or negotiations again, with or without outside facilitators, but probably with the same outcome than earlier. So from my perspective a new approach is needed and both Israeli leftist initiatives – ‘it’s in our hands’ by Omer Bar-Lev and ‘Constructive unilateralism’ by Blue White Future – are steps forward and in my opinion also to the right direction.

If two-states solution can not be negotiated between shareholders and when one-state option in my opinion would destroy Israel as ‘Jewish homeland’ so there is possibilities to make regional solution – I have long propagated the idea of the “Three-State-(return) Option” ( e.g. in ”The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict” ) or to support local unilateral solution. If peace negotiations don’t start, they fail again or regional solutions can’t be realized this time so from my viewpoint Israel could independently implement what I have called a ‘Cold Peace Solution’, a minimal level of peace relations, where Israel would annex main settlements from West-bank inside the security fence and return to negotiations about other than so solved border issue when both parties feel need to make a long term deal. This solution in my opinion is the best way forward and it even might be possible to implement. If unilateral solutions are made in the framework of constructive unilateralism so this approach might be the right roadmap towards more permanent two-state solution. Not so bad option compared status quo anyway from my perspective.

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila


Israeli-Palestinian Fears

August 4, 2015

Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) has published their quarterly research e.g. on levels of support for the two-state solution, (which is that support for the two-state solution has dropped to 51 per cent support in Israel and has stayed steady on 51 per cent support among Palestinians). However the really worrying results were related to fears of Israelis and Palestinians: As many as 56 per cent of Israelis are worried or very worried on a daily basis that they will be murdered by Arabs and 79 per cent of Palestinians are worried or very worried on a daily basis that they will be murdered or have their land confiscated by Jews.

psrlogoThe Palestinian sample size was 1200 adults interviewed face-to-face in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in 120 randomly selected locations between June 3 and 6, 2015. The margin of error is 3%. The Israeli sample includes 802 adult Israelis interviewed in Hebrew, Arabic or Russian between June 2 and 14, 2015. The margin of error is 3%. The poll was conducted jointly by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the for Palestinian Center Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah. This joint survey was conducted with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Ramallah and Jerusalem.

These are the results:

MAIN FINDINGS

 (A) Conflict management and threat perceptions

  • Now, after forming a right wing government in Israel led by Benjamin Netanyahu, we asked both sides about their expectations for the future: 6% of the Israelis and 27% of the Palestinians think that the two sides will soon return to negotiations. 28% of the Israelis and 29% of the Palestinians think that the two sides will return to negotiations but some armed attacks will take place. 43% of the Israelis and 20% of the Palestinians think that some armed attacks will take place and the two sides will not return to negotiations. Finally, 8% of the Israelis and 18% of the Palestinians think that the two sides will not return to negotiations and there will be no armed attacks. In December 2014, 32% of the Israelis and 37% of the Palestinians thought that the two sides will not return to negotiations and some armed attacks will take place and 8% of the Israelis and 10% of the Palestinians thought that the two sides will not return to negotiations and there will be no armed attacks.
  • Among Israelis, 56% are worried and 41% are not worried that they or their family may be harmed by Arabs in their daily life. Among Palestinians, 79% are worried and 21% are not worried that they or a member of their family could be hurt by Israel in their daily life or that their land would be confiscated or home demolished.
  • The level of threat on both sides regarding the aspirations of the other side in the long run is very high. 56% of Palestinians think that Israel’s goals are to extend its borders to cover all the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and expel its Arab citizens, and 25% think the Israel’s goals are to annex the West Bank while denying political rights to the Palestinians. 43% of Israelis think that Palestinian’s aspirations in the long run are to conquer the State of Israel and destroy much of the Jewish population in Israel; 18% think the goals of the Palestinians are to conquer the State of Israel. Only 17% of the Palestinians think Israel’s aspirations in the long run are to withdraw from all (6%) or some (11%) of the territories occupied in 1967 after guaranteeing its security. 27% of Israelis think the aspirations of the Palestinians are to regain some (12%) or all (15%) of the territories conquered in 1967.
  • At the same time: 9% of the Israelis say the aspirations of Israel are to withdraw to the 1967 borders after guaranteeing Israel’s security. 33% say that Israel’s aspirations are to withdraw from parts of the territories after guaranteeing Israel’s security. 18% say that Israel’s aspirations are to annex the West Bank without granting political rights to the Palestinians living there. 14% say that these aspirations are to annex the West Bank and expel the Palestinians living there.
  • Among the Palestinians 38% say that the aspirations of the Palestinian Authority and the PLO are to regain some of the territories conquered in the 1967 war. 30% say the Palestinian aspirations are to regain all the territories conquered in the 1967 war. 13% say that the Palestinian aspirations are to conquer the State of Israel and regain control over the pre 1948 Palestine. 10% say that these aspirations are to conquer the State of Israel and destroy much of the Jewish population in Israel.

 

PSR poll December 2014

PSR poll December 2014b[http://www.pcpsr.org/en/node/505]

(B) Negotiation Tracks on the Agenda

The Saudi Plan

  • 21% of the Israelis and 52% of the Palestinians support the Saudi peace plan, 67% of the Israelis and 44% of the Palestinians oppose it. In December 2014, 27% of the Israelis and 43% of the Palestinians supported the Saudi peace plan, while 63% of the Israelis and 53% of the Palestinians opposed it. The plan calls for Arab recognition of and normalization of relations with Israel after it ends its occupation of Arab territories occupied in 1967 and after the establishment of a Palestinian state. The plan calls for Israeli retreat from all territories occupied in 1967 including Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and the establishment of a Palestinian state. The refugee problem will be resolved through negotiations in a just and agreed upon manner and in accordance with UN resolution 194. In return, all Arab states will recognize Israel and its right to secure borders, will sign peace treaties with Israel and establish normal diplomatic relations.

The Israeli-Palestinian Track

  • Dismantling settlements – 38% of the Israelis support and 54% oppose the dismantling of most of the settlements in the West Bank as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
  • 51% of Israelis and 51% of Palestinians support the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, known as the two-state solution and 43% of Israelis and 48% of Palestinians oppose it. In June 2014, 62% of the Israelis and 54% of the Palestinians supported this solution and 34% of the Israelis and 46% of the Palestinians opposed it. In December 2014, 58% of Israelis and 48% of Palestinians supported a two-state solution and 37% of Israelis and 51% of Palestinians opposed it.
  • Mutual Recognition – As we do periodically in our joint polls, we asked Israelis and Palestinians about their readiness for a mutual recognition as part of a permanent status agreement and after all issues in the conflict are resolved and a Palestinian State is established. Our current poll shows that 44% of the Israeli public supports such a mutual recognition and 45% opposes it. Among Palestinians, 44% support and 54% oppose this step. In December 2014, 54% of the Israeli public supported such a mutual recognition and 36% opposed it. Among Palestinians, 39% supported and 60% opposed this step.

[Source: Palestinian Center Policy and Survey Research ]

Palestinian Center Policy and Survey Research
PSR is an independent nonprofit institution and think tank of policy analysis and academic research. PSR was founded with the  goal of advancing scholarship and knowledge on immediate issues of concern to  Palestinians in three areas: domestic politics and government, strategic  analysis and foreign policy, and public opinion polls and survey  research.  PSR research units conduct and organize four types of activities: research and policy analysis,  empirical surveys and public opinion polls, task forces and study groups, and  meetings and conferences. The units focus on current public policy issuesn with a special reliance on empirical research as a tool to advancen scholarship and understanding.
 
PSR is dedicated to promoting objective andn nonpartisan research and analysis and to encouraging a better understanding  of Palestinian domestic and international environment in an atmosphere of  free debate and exchange of ideas. PSR is registered as a nonprofit  institution in the Palestinian Ministry of Justice.

Peculiarities of Operation Protective Edge

July 21, 2014

In Israeli-Palestinian conflict the policy “meet quiet with quiet” turned on July 2014 to violence leading to ongoing operation Protective Edge. Again one can see usual vicious cycle like few times before: Hamas terrorizes Israeli civilians with rockets, Israel responds and tries to disarm Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure, the innocent civilians on both sides of the border are paying the price, once again, and that military action will not guarantee long-term stability or peace.

Hamas is trying to claim a symbolic victory over Israel. But the longer the conflict lasts, the more complications the militants in Gaza face as they see their threat of force erode with time – that their tool is becoming less effective. Since the beginning of the operation, more than 2200 terror targets in Gaza have been eliminated, however the real conflict is yet to follow if all three possible stages – an integrated air and sea assault, a ground operation from the Army, and the third part if needed would be expanding the operation including recruiting more reservists- will be implemented. The coming days will show whether this conflict will end as earlier ones or is it sliding into a full-blown war.

Media attention in Israel and abroad is starting to shift to Ukraine for the first time in days after reports are flooding in that a Malaysian Airlines commercial jet was shot down. Already earlier there was competition for media space due IS(IS) activities in Iraq and Syria. My forecast is that in one to three weeks (depending how deep ground operation Israel implements) there will be a ceasefire for two-three next years.

End of story? Not yetas in my opinion this time there are few aspects which are significant in comparison to earlier operations. I would like to highlight three of them: Increased capacity of Hamas, critical attitude from Arab states which is making the political impact of Hamas operation less effective and civilian to combatant deaths ratio.

Reinforcements 1: New rockets

Hamas has now better capacity to implement its operations due two significant means – the new longer range rockets and the offensive tunnels. A novelty in this latest conflict is the apparent use by the Palestinians of an even longer-range system – thought to be a Syrian built-missile – the Khaibar-1. This was first used earlier this month and has a range of up to 160km which brings Israel’s northern coastal city of Haifa within reach. A weapon that crops up in some of the reporting has the designation M-302 which has a similar range. Range here is crucial. Bringing the population of major Israeli cities under threat, however inaccurate the weapon, causes huge disruption and fear.

Hamas rocketsEarlier Hamas has used shorter-range systems like heavy mortars and Grad and Qassam rockets with ranges of up to 48km (30 miles) and 17km respectively. They threaten towns and cities in southern Israel, like Sderot, Ashkelon and even Beersheba and the port of Ashdod. There is also the longer range Fajr-5, sometimes also designated the M75. It can reach up to 75km, threatening major population centres like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.


Here is a report from Israel Defence Force (IDF) intelligence on Hamas’ and Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket arsenal:

Short range (15-20 km)

  • Over 2,000 units of self-produced rockets (15 km)
  • Over 3,500 units of smuggled rockets (15 km)
  • Approx. 500 units of self-produced Grad rockets (20 km)
  • Approx. 300 units of smuggled Grad rockets (20 km)

Medium range (up to 45 km)

  • Approx. 400 units of self-produced improved Grad rockets (45 km)
  • Approx. 1,600 units of smuggled improved Grad rockets (45 km)

Medium-Long range (up to 80 km)

  • Over 500 units of self-produced medium range rockets
  • Several dozens of rockets (80 km)

Long range (100-200 km)

  • Tens of long-range rockets (100-200 km)

In Total: Approximately 9,000-10,000 rockets

The latest generation of rockets it has acquired can reach the population center of Israel: the triangle of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. However, these are rockets, not missiles. That means they have no guidance system, and their point of impact once launched is a matter of chance. Given these limits, Hamas hoped having a large number of rockets of different ranges would create the risk of substantial Israeli civilian casualties, and that that risk would deter Israel from action against Gaza. However for example using the Fajr-5 brings huge practical problems. It is heavy and fairly large – some 6m (20ft) tall. It requires mechanical handling and needs to be pre-positioned in hidden launch sites and camouflaged from the prying eyes of Israeli drones.

Besides new rockets of Hamas there is also other increase of similar capacity. Armed groups linked to Fatah say they began launching rockets and mortar shells into Israel Wednesday 16th . The Nidal Al-Amody force of Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed responsibility for firing Grad and 107 millimeter rockets toward Ashkelon, Sderot, Netivot, Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha and the Sufa Crossing from Gaza. Communiques specifying the attacks were published on Fatah’s official Facebook page. On 17thanother armed force associated with Fatah, the Abdul Qader Husseini Battalions, claimed responsibility for launching two Grad rockets at Ashkelon and four mortar shells at Kibbutz Nir Oz. Fatah’s FB title: “The Al-Aqsa Brigades and the Abdul Qader Husseini Brigades have proven today that they are the most loyal to the blood of the martyrs.”

For the first time in this conflict rockets were fired from Lebanon at Israel, targeting the northern town of Metula early on Friday. According to defence sources they were likely fired by a Palestinian group, and not by Hezbollah.

In addition it’s now been discovered that what the IDF shot down on 14th July was not a rocket, but an unmanned drone launched from Gaza. This represent an escalation of Gaza’s capabilities and attempts to attack Israel. The drone was shot down by a Patriot missile and it was the first time a Patriot has been launched at a target in Israel in 20 years.

Reinforcements 2: Offensive tunnels

Offensive tunnels have become a strategic weapon for Hamas in recent years. Gaza militants were en route to ambush the string of agricultural communities that are just a few hundred feet of fields away from the border. Israeli border kibbutz became a war zone.It highlighted the potency of Hamas’ network of border attack tunnels: the Islamic militants penetrated Israeli territory three times in three days and want to open a new front in the battle against Israel by targeting the border kibbutz. (Source and more in WSJ )

Hamas tunnelsIsraeli sources admit that they have been surprised by the extent of the tunneling under the border. This “blind spot” in Israeli intelligence can be explained by the strict compartmentalization of the digging operation in Gaza, which was not carried out not by Hamas members, but by families from Rafah which specialize in tunneling. These families controlled the smuggling tunnels from Egypt and were brought in as contractors by Hamas. Israel is now claiming that a large proportion of the concrete it allowed into Gaza in recent years for civilian building was used in the tunnels’ construction. This tunnel system was designed to be the Palestinian Islamists’ highest strategic asset, Around 16,000 men, around 15 percent of Hamas’ fighting strength, were assigned to the tunnel project in the last five years and substantial funds.

On Oct. 10th , 2013 Israeli Army discovered a tunnel dug by Palestinians from east of Abasan, in southern Gaza.According Al-Monitorthe passageway lies 20 meters underground, is 2.5 kilometers long, and has a ceiling high enough to accommodate a man of average height. The tunnel is also remarkably wide. Its construction required 800 tons of concrete and cost an estimated $10 million. Some 100 workers toiled on it for more than two years. It was equipped with a communications network and electricity and contained stockpiles of cookies, yoghurt and other foods to allow for stays of several months.

Hamas tunnelsDefense analysts admit that the threat of the cross-border attack tunnels is even more potent than Hamas’s rocket arsenal because of the risk of mass casualties or a kidnapping from the border. Israel’s military said destroying the Hamas tunnel network has become a main goal of their ground operation into the Gaza Strip, in addition to stopping rocket fire. (Source WSJ )

So far, Hamas has lost 13 of these kind of offensive tunnels, some of which Israel possesses both ends of, with Israeli troops having taken control of the entry points in Gaza. Still ahead of the Israeli operation, after the troops finish cleansing Shejaiya are similar challenges to dismantle Hamas’ offensive capabilities in another three of their Gaza City strongholds: Shaati, Al Bureij and Nuseirat, before Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure can be said to have been disarmed. Israel is making every effort to find and destroy all of the remaining tunnels before Operation Protective Edge comes to an end. It is estimated that construction similar tunnels takes around three years.

Civilian deaths

“Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank. Don’t forget to always add ‘innocent civilian’ or ‘innocent citizen’ in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza.”(The Hamas guidelines to Gaza Strip social media users for reporting events and discussing them with outsiders)

The role of civilians during ongoing operation Protective Edge is traditional one: Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations intentionally target Israeli civilians and use the population of Gaza as human shields, storing and firing rockets from within populated areas. One example during this ongoing operation was when twenty rockets have been hidden in a Gaza school operated under the auspices of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, officials from the organization confirm. UNRWA officials in Israel are summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, where they apologize to Israel for the incident. Despite this United Nations officials handed the rockets found in Gaza school over to Hamas so they can be shot at Israel.

Israel aims to targets included buildings used by the Hamas leadership, the homes of senior Hamas members, tunnels, underground launchers, communications infrastructure, military bases, and weapons caches. The IDF and Shin Bet intelligence agency joint targeted the homes of a series of Hamas leaders that were used as command and control centers by the military wing of Hamas. Israel does not intentionally target Palestinian civilians; in opposite the IDF takes extraordinary measures to avoid Palestinian civilian deaths. This is the core difference between Israeli and Hamas approaches and in my opinion it will give justification to this discussion about disproportion.

The former Commander of the British Armed Forces in Afghanistan, Col. Richard Kemp, gives an insider view to civilian casualties in conflicts:

The UN estimate that there has been an average three-to-one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in such conflicts worldwide. Three civilians for every combatant killed. That is the estimated ratio in Afghanistan: three to one. In Iraq, and in Kosovo, it was worse: the ratio is believed to be four-to-one. Anecdotal evidence suggests the ratios were very much higher in Chechnya and Serbia. In Gaza, it was less than one-to-one.”

As example Col.Kemp probably has earlier Gaza operation Cast Lead (2008-2009). The militants are hiding, and their weapons are located, among their own people. For example, Israel has bombed 1,100 targets in Gaza in Operation Protective Edge, with an average of one civilian killed per 14-15 attacks. In the war in Kosovo, 500 civilians were killed in 900 air attacks by NATO forces, i.e. more than one fatality per every two attacks.

Hamas rocketsIt is worth noting that many of the civilian casualties can be attributed to Hamas’s use of human shields, as they have encouraged civilians over and over again to become human shields as an “effective strategy” in the PR war against Israel. In addition, several of the rockets fired from Gaza have never made it on to Israeli soil, and may be partially responsible for Palestinian Arab deaths from within Gaza itself. According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Office, over 100 rockets fired at Israel have fallen short of their targets, causing an unknown number of deaths. In addition Hamas has also during Operation Protective Edge executed many Palestinians due to collaboration or spying for Israel.

gaza land crossings activityIsrael is attempting to avoid civilian casualties with warning strikes (rockets which make a noise but do not explode), telephoned warnings to specific houses, as well as broadcasts to the civilian population urging them to distance themselves from armed groups and their infrastructure. (More in my articleMinimizing Collateral Damage In Gaza Conflict) Israel has kept open crossings for goods to enter the Gaza Strip, in contrast to Egypt which keeps its Rafah border with the Strip mainly closed. Medical patients from Gaza continue to enter Israel for life saving treatment on a daily basis. IDF warnings have been documented in certain cases, and even the civilians in Gaza admit in a number of instances that they were warned by the IDF. (More in Globes )

Saying all above I estimate that the civilian to combatant deaths ratio during Operation Protective Edge will be much higher than in previous operation as the targets are now better hide among civilian population and because of encouraging civiliansto become human shields.

Speaking about Israeli civilian deaths I expect them to be minimal like during earlier operations. Sure more people are in danger due to Hamas’ new rockets but also there is better Iron Dome system for protection. Iron Dome batteries are made up of interceptor missiles: radars and command systems that analyse where target missiles might fall and only intercept those deemed to be heading for civilian areas. ( More about Israel missile defence in my article ( More about Israel missile defence in my article Will Iron Dome balance the Hamas Terror? ) . Israel has also invested – as opposite to Hamas – lot of efforts for warning signals and shelters for Israeli civilians. All this means that the death ones in Israeli side will be soldiers especially if ground operation takes more weeks to end.

iron dome

Hamas losing political support

Hamas must be disappointed at the Muslim world’s reaction. Hamas did not get the usual reflexive support and fiery backlash against Israel. In fact, it appears that the terrorist group’s largest support is coming from protests in Europe. The latest round of fighting is remarkable in what did not happen. There weren’t automatic mass demonstrations against Israel and the West. No major riots or countless photographs of Israeli and American flags on fire across the region. (Source and more: ClarionProject )

The offensive waged by Hamas against Israel from the Gaza Strip has sparked intense criticism in the Arab media, reflecting the movement’s deteriorating status in the Arab world.Media in Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Egypt blame Hamas’ actions for inviting Israeli counter attacks and prioritizing conflict over the safety of the Gazan population and criticized the leadership for waging war far from the conflict, a Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) report shows.


For example in an article titled “Gaza Is not All Hamas”, Dr. Nagla Al-Sayyid, a columnist in the Egyptian daily Al-Gumhouriyya, wrote that Hamas was losing its legitimacy because it was trading in the blood of Palestinians while exploiting the financial aid it was receiving to promote its political and ideological interests. Dr. Amal ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz Al-Hazzani, a columnist for the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, wrote that Hamas sacrifices the people of Gaza while falsely claiming victory over Israel. “Adding fuel to the fire of the Gaza victims is the repeated media hypocrisy and the disgusting tear-jerking speeches that we don’t stop hearing every time Hamas decides to sacrifice some of the people of Gaza. Only rarely do they speak the truth. The Arab street doesn’t want to hear anything aside from curses against Israel, and that is easy, because we’ve been cursing it for over 60 years. After Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mash’al criticized Egypt’s Gaza policy by saying, “We expect the Egyptian army [to use its] spirit of heroism for the sake of its Arab nation,”many columnists in the Egyptian media responded with fury. For instance, in an article titled “Why Isn’t Khaled Mash’al Giving His Life In Gaza?”, columnist Hamdi Razaq argued that, while Egypt is defending the Palestinian cause, Hamas has “sold” it to the MB, and Mash’al himself is enjoying a life of luxury in Qatar. He wrote: “Where is your spirit of heroism, Abu Walid [i.e., Khaled Mash’al]? Join your brothers. The media in Syria, which is likewise resentful of Hamas and its leaders due to their support for the rebellion against President Bashar Al-Assad, also slammed this movement, saying that it has abandoned the resistance in favor of a Western plan to destroy the Arab world, and that Mash’al has chosen to manage the war not from Gaza but rather from Doha, the capital of Qatar, a country known for its support for the MB and “in whose palaces the Israeli and Western intelligence cells nest.”

Finally also Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry blamed Hamas for the situation, telling Egyptian newspaper editors, “The parties that oppose the Egyptian cease-fire initiative bear responsibility for the Palestinian blood being shed.” (More about cease-fire intiative in Bicom article)

What’s motivating Hamas to commit suicide – or temporary one at least – now? One reason might be that the last few months it has become quite clear that the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip is dictating the fate of the movement and its leaders. Egypt has closed the Rafah crossing is closed; there aren’t enough tunnels to bring in ammunition, luxery items and other merchandise for profits of Hamas elite which lacks money to pay salaries to its bureaucrats and fighters.

The latestPew poll  shows that only 35% of Palestinians have a favorable view of Hamas. About 63% of those in Gaza and 47% of those in the West Bank have an unfavorable view. That means that the political position of Hamas has done a 180 degree turn. The survey also found that 65% of Palestinians worry about Islamic extremism, consisting of 79% of those in the Gaza Strip and 57% of the West Bank.

Safeguarding civils Israel vs Hamas

When Hamas first took the Gaza Strip it presented itself as fighting the corrupt Fatah administration, but now the people of Gaza have seen that they are no different. Both Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza have been suffering for some time now from a serious loss of credibility. The decision to launch rockets on the part of Hamas represented a cynical attempt to regain the loss in credibility. One reason for weakening popularity might be that people in Gaza see how corrupt the ruling elite is. For example in contrast to most refugee families, in 2010 PM Haniyeh reportedly purchased a 2,500 square meter plot of land in Gaza City for $4 million. Globes reported that in order not to draw attention to the purchase, he registered the land in the name of his daughter, Nabil. Since then, he has continued purchasing real estate, under the names of his 13 children. The paper also reported that there is no shortage of million-dollar villas for sale in Gaza, and no shortage of people to buy them, mostly Hamas officials. According to Dr Ahmed Karima, a senior lecturer at al-Azhar University in Cairo, Hamas has transformed from a resistance movement to a political party representing no less than 1,200 millionaires. Other Hamas officials who have become rich since the group staged a violent coup in Gaza in 2006 include Politburo Chief Khaled Mashal, who enjoys a bank stash of $2.6 billion, much of which is stored in Qatari and Egyptian banks. (Source and more e.g in Jewishpress )

On the other hand in the West Bank residents speak admiringly of the Islamist militant group Hamas while despairing that Abbas’s advocacy for nonviolence has led nowhere. It is claimed from The Palestinian side that the timing of Protective Edge is aimed at derailing a fragile Palestinian reconciliation deal that brought together the various factions, including Hamas, under Abbas’s leadership. The battle between Israel and Hamas has laid bare just how little impact the unity deal had on the ground. Abbas has virtually no presence in Gaza, and he lacks the ability to influence events there. Anyway an indisputable loser of ongoing operation is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who this spring was Israel’s partner in U.S.-brokered peace talks but has now been relegated to bystander status.

From Israeli side the official justification for yet another shelling of the Gaza strip, after the 2012 “Operation Pillar of Defence” and the December 2008 “Operation Cast Lead” is the usual one. These strikes are necessary, the Israeli government claims, to destroy devices and bases used for the launching of rockets aimed at Israeli towns. Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, terrorists from the strip have fired more than 8,000 rockets into Israel.

Political solution?

Military action, however, is not a long-term solution, as Israeli operations in 2012 and 2008-9 showed. Israel seized Gaza in 1967 and withdrew in 2005. It is hard to see how re-occupation would serve Israel’s interests. American-mediated negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority failed in April 2014. After that, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, reached a reconciliation agreement with Hamas, which has lost support in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world. That moment could have been a chance to erode Hamas’s political standing further and boost Palestinian moderates like Mr. Abbas. The agreement created a government that had no Hamas members, reaffirmed the Palestinian Authority’s longstanding commitment to living in peace with Israel, and would have given the authority a foothold in Gaza.

Israel strongly opposed American recognition of the new government, however, and sought to isolate it internationally, seeing any small step toward Palestinian unity as a threat. Israel’s security establishment objects to the strengthening of West Bank-Gaza ties, lest Hamas raise its head in the West Bank. Many Israelis however understand that a unified Palestinian leadership is a prerequisite for any lasting peace.The current escalation in Gaza is partly result of the choice by Israel and the West to obstruct the implementation of the April 2014 Palestinian reconciliation agreement. In my opinion the reconciliation government could have served Israel’s interests.

The first step probably will be a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement. After that a possible scenario could be implementing Palestinian reconciliation deal with Palestinian parliamentary and presidential elections and start Israeli-Palestinian negotiations again on the basis of two-state solution. As this method has been used last twenty years without progress I have doubts also this time. The Palestinian leaders have “rejected several opportunities to establish a Palestinian state and develop Palestinian civil society.” They fear that “accepting reconciliation would transform the Palestinians … from the world’s ultimate victim into an ordinary nation-state, terminating decades of unprecedented international indulgence;” it would force them “into responsibility, accountability and the daunting task of state building.”

On basis of reading different analysis and looking the mood in some social media forums I think that the idea of taking unilateral steps is gaining ground from the centre-left to the centre-right. One of the possible solutions is The Bennet’s sovereignty program. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett has proposed to apply Israel’s sovereignty to Area C, beginning with the major settlement blocs. After the recent breakdown in the negotiations with the PLO Bennet said that this was the time for Israel to put its own initiative on the table, and start to “move forward after 20 years of trying one track, which has met with no success.” Likud Ministers Israel Katz and Gilad Erdan, as well as Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, have spoken recently about applying Israel law to Area C of the West Bank.

The Oslo Accords divided Judea and Samaria into three areas: Area A, B and C. Area A comprises some 18 percent of the territory, and was transferred to the control of the Palestinian Authority, which enjoys most governmental powers. Authority in Area B, making up 22% of the territory, was divided between Israel and the Palestinians, with Israel retaining security control, and civil matters given over to the PA. Area C, comprising some 60% of the territory – including all the Jewish settlements – remained in Israeli hands. There are an estimated 350,000 Israelis and 70,000 Palestinians in Area C. Under Bennett’s plan, the Palestinians would be offered full Israeli citizenship.The proposal includes removing IDF roadblocks in the territory left under Palestinian control, Areas A and B, as well as investing in infrastructure there and pursuing massive economic development. (Source: Jpost )

My conclusion

So my conclusion about operation Protective Edge is that it updates Hamas capasity to terror Israel as well shows the ability of Israel to protect its civilian population. After too many civilian deaths on Palestinian side and after Hamas capacity is destroyd enough for couple of next years and when Hamas in their propaganda can show its strength to fight against Israel there will be ceasefire facilitated by Egypt, Qatar and/or USA in one to three weeks. After that there might be some peace talks round again without result and both parties start to implement their unilateral actions. Is this forecast right or wrong remains to see, but this kind of scenario is from my perspective very possible.

civilians hamas vs Israel

Appendix:

Materials regarding IDF’s efforts to avoid harming civilians

(Communicated by the Israeli Government Press Office)


IDF call to warn the population prior to attacking in the Gaza Strip
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yvQz3SQxGI&list=PLObnKQho8o8PNUxfldeGNOsDFdazchJH8&index=21>

Warning Flyer distributed by the IDF to warn the civilian population of Shuja’iya before an operation
<https://twitter.com/IDFSpokesperson/status/490811849718259712/photo/1>

Israeli Air Force cancels a planned strike due to civilians being in the area
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuL-OA84p54&index=17&list=PLObnKQho8o8PNUxfldeGNOsDFdazchJH8>

Hamas gathers civilians on a rooftop, to serve as human shields, causing the IDF to avoid an attack
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTArVIHDelg&index=9&list=PLObnKQho8o8PNUxfldeGNOsDFdazchJH8>

IDF transfers humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIm_hf-fG3E&list=UUawNWlihdgaycQpO3zi-jYg>

Video showing the warning given to “Wafa” hospital prior to attack, and the large secondary explosions indicating that the place served as a hiding place for weapons
<http://youtu.be/8O9AHzUKYk8>

Materials indicating Hamas use of civilians as human shields and other violations by Hamas of International Law

IDF video explaining the issue of human shields in Gaza, and placing civilians within the line of fire
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzFgIhFKII8&feature=youtu.be&list=UUawNWlihdgaycQpO3zi-jYg>

Hamas Spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri admits: The human shields policy is effective
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQ6S0-o3uFI&list=PLQWAIPjg0J35g5R7YnlksFFUF4i_IaGOj>

Hamas Spokesman, Mushir El-Masri, calls civilian population not to leave their homes
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TERz6YgOIGo&feature=youtu.be>

Spokesman of the Hamas Military Section, Abu Ubeida admits to using youth as warriors: We manufactured a quarter of a million hand grenades and our boys will throw them instead of throwing rocks
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_UbLHNFAv4&feature=youtu.be>

Flyer by the Palestinian Ministry of the Interior calling civilians not to comply with IDF evacuation warnings
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2lB76qTkQA&feature=youtu.be>

Gaza citizens admit that Hamas forbids them from leaving their homes (3:15 mins) <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMUdU3AqlyQ&feature=youtu.be>

Violations of International Law by Hamas
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOAVEpfusvQ&list=UUawNWlihdgaycQpO3zi-jYg>

Hamas uses an ambulance to help militants escape a battle area
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7O114V9PdmM&list=UUawNWlihdgaycQpO3zi-jYg&index=7>

Stockpile of ready-to-fire rockets hidden by Hamas next to a school in Gaza
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u57yxd753f8&index=9&list=UUawNWlihdgaycQpO3zi-jYg>

Hamas militants shoot from residential homes
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfbjO2WznEk&index=10&list=UUawNWlihdgaycQpO3zi-jYg>

Video proving that Hamas uses explosive tunnels
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zn2Vee_N8SM&list=UUawNWlihdgaycQpO3zi-jYg&index=2>

Aerial photo of shooting next to a hospital and a mosque
<http://www.idfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Shujaiya-square.jpg>

Infographic: Terror tunnels in Shuja’iya
<http://www.idfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/xray-cityspaen.jpg>

IDF infographic of an aerial photo about Shuja’iya
<https://twitter.com/IDFSpokesperson/status/490833439222804481>

Journalist in Gaza tweets: Hamas militant in Shuja’iya fighting wearing women’s clothing
<https://mobile.twitter.com/janisctv/status/490864436518080512>

Washington Post report: Hamas militants placing rockets in a mosque in the north of the Gaza Strip
<http://m.washingtonpost.com/world/gaza-residents-scramble-to-make-most-of-five-hour-truce/2014/07/17/e5485fce-0d7e-11e4-8341-b8072b1e7348_story.html>

UNRWA admits: Hamas hid rockets in one of our schools in Gaza <http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/unrwa-strongly-condemns-placement-rockets-school>

A second case in which UNRWA admits to finding a stockpile of rockets hidden in one of their schools
<http://www.unrwa.org//newsroom/press-releases/unrwa-condemns-placement-rockets-second-time-one-its-schools>

Collection of photos of tunnels dug by Hamas in the Gaza Strip <https://www.flickr.com/search/?w=45644610@N03&q=tunnel>

Articles

Article on Hamas use of civilians as human shields
<http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/Data/articles/Art_20669/E_111_14_2032155167.pdf>

Article on Hamas use of mosques for military purposes
<http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/en/article/20672>

Article on Hamas use of schools for military purposes
<http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/he/article/20680>

Article on use of the home of a Hamas terrorist for storing weapons
<http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/he/article/20677>

Article on use of medical facilities and ambulances for military-terrorist purposes
<http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/en/article/20683>

Epilogue:


The Kerry Plan For Israel And Palestine – Can It Work?

February 7, 2014

Israeli-Palestinian peace talksUS Secretary of State John Kerry’s intense shuttle diplomacy helped resume Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in July 2013 and were to take up to nine months, until April 29 this year. Now Kerry is now planning to present a US framework plan that will lay out what Washington considers the core concessions Israelis and Palestinians need to make for a fair, lasting deal.

The exact content of the US framework plan remains uncertain for peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). However it is preindicated that it will call for a phased Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria based on the 1949 lines, with “unprecedented” security arrangements in the strategic Jordan Valley. The framework plan includes Israeli withdrawal from disputed territories of West Bank but will not include certain settlement blocs, Israel will compensate the Arab side for this with Israeli territory. The plan will call for Palestine to have a capital in Arab East Jerusalem and to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. It will not include any right of return for Palestinian refugees into pre-1967 Israel.

Neither side is pleased with framework plan as such however both sides probably are poised to accept the forthcoming, non-binding agreement with sufficient reservations to make it meaningless, yet enabling Kerry to demonstrate a “successful diplomatic coup.”

Kerry’s plan

Israel lobby in USAUS Secretary of State John Kerry’s is now finalizing a framework for final status talks with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Kerry‘s plan will include following components according his speech to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on 24 January 2014:

  • an independent state for Palestinians wherever they may be”
  • security arrangements for Israel that leave it more secure, not less”
  • a just and agreed solution to the Palestinian refugee problem; an end to the conflict and all claims”
  • mutual recognition of the nation-state of the Palestinian people and the nation-state of the Jewish people”

Kerry gave specific attention to security, commenting, “the Israelis rightfully will not withdraw unless they know that the West Bank will not become a new Gaza.” There has been consultations with Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian leaders over a “security structure that meets the highest standards anywhere in the world” in the Jordan Valley, incorporating “a layered defence” system. Israel and the PA disagree over the necessity of Israeli troops to stay in the Jordan Valley in the event of an Israeli withdrawal.

Security

In a New York Times interview published on Sunday (Feb. 2nd 2014), Abbas presented his positions on security issues, saying that Israeli troops could remain in the territory of a Palestinian state for five years after the signing of a peace agreement. Abbas also said that an American-led NATO force could patrol a future Palestinian state indefinitely. Abbas said the NATO force could stay “for a long time, and wherever they want, not only on the eastern borders, but also on the western borders, everywhere. The third-party can stay. They can stay to reassure the Israelis, and to protect us.” “We will be demilitarized,” Abbas said. “Do you think we have any illusion that we can have any security if the Israelis do not feel they have security?” Abbas said the Palestinian state would not have its own army, but only a police force, meaning that the NATO force would be responsible for preventing weapons smuggling and terrorism. Abbas also suggested that Israeli settlements could be phased out over the course of a timetable similar to his five-year proposal for the Israeli military withdrawal.

Territory

“What Israel has won on the battlefield, it is determined not to yield at the [U.N. Security] Council table.” (David Ben-Gurion when threatened with U.N. Security Council sanctions)

New talks are possible due active and skilled shuttle diplomacy implemented by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who succeeded where both his predecessor Hillary Clinton and his superior, President Barack Obama, failed. Kerry has highlighted a 2002 offer by the 22-nation Arab League to make peace with Israel  in return for a Palestinian state broadly inside borders that existed before Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in 1967.In May 2013, a high level Arab League delegation, after meeting with Kerry, agreed to change the language of the Arab Peace Initiative from its rigid demand for a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines to accepting “comparable,” mutually agreed and “minor” land swaps.80% of the settlers live in large blocs close to the Green Line. To connect those blocs up to Little Israel will need a land swap of about 6%. That is doable. This has been almost accepted in earlier talks at Camp David and Annapolis as well in Olmert’s proposal at last final status negotiations 2008. While 20% of the settlers live outside these green line blocs, these settlements will not be part of Israel proper, after a proposed deal so some 20-30,000 households will have to be absorbed back into Israel and this is doable.

Martin Indyk, the State Department’s lead envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, told the Jewish leaders on 30th Jan. 2014 that under the framework agreement about 75-80 percent of settlers would stay in what would become Israeli sovereign territory through land swaps; he added that it was his impression that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was not averse to allowing settlers who want to remain as citizens of the Palestinian state. The sides, he said, will negotiate with the expectation of reaching a final deal by the end of 2014. (Source: The Times of Israel)

An official in the Israeli prime minister’s office said Sunday Binyamin Netanyahu believes Jewish settlers should have the option of staying in a future Palestinian state. In Davos, he told the World Economic Forum Saturday that he did not intend to uproot any Israelis in a peace deal. The prime minister sees no reason why a Palestinian state should be “ethnically cleansed.” An official in the Israeli prime minister’s office said Sunday Binyamin Netanyahu believes Jewish settlers should have the option of staying in a future Palestinian state. In Davos, he told the World Economic Forum Saturday that he did not intend to uproot any Israelis in a peace deal. The prime minister sees no reason a Palestinian state should be “ethnically cleansed.”

More about earlier negotiations in PaliLeaks, land swaps and desperate search of peace .

Israeli proposal for borders of West Bank according PM Olmert

For peace deal I consider that Israel needs to agree to a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines with territorial swaps, when just 60 to 90 percent of settlers need to be included in the settlement blocs. The outcome of Kerry’s plan might well be close to that what PM Olmert offered to PA on 2008. Themap  of this earlier proposal can be downloaded also from my Document library.

BDS as thread?

In WEF/Davos Kerry commented that “for Israel there is an increasing de-legitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it, there is talk of boycott and other kinds of things,” implying that such a campaign would gain traction if peace talks should fail. Netanyahu said that efforts to boycott Israel will “cause the Palestinians to become entrenched behind their obstinate positions and push peace farther away.” He added that, “no pressure will cause me to give up Israeli vital interests, first and foremost the security of Israeli citizens.” However, Labour MK Merav Michaeli blamed Netanyahu for the volatile rhetoric surrounding boycotts, saying “Netanyahu exposed us to the threat of sanctions … Israeli security is a fantasy if we don’t have a diplomatic treaty, and that includes our economic security.” (Source BICOM ) Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon later responded that a European boycott is preferable to rocket attacks on Ben-Gurion Airport.

I agree with Kerry, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement is picking up speed. Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest bank, has decided to sever its ties with Israel’s Bank Hapoalim, citing “legal and ethical conflicts” with the bank’s activities beyond the Green Line. A Bank Hapoalim statement said that “Denmark’s Danske Bank has no investments, of any kind, with Bank Hapoalim.” The Danish bank’s decision followed a similar decision by PGGM, the Netherlands’ largest pension fund management company, which on Jan 2014 decided to divest from Israel’s five largest banks, saying they either have branches in the West Bank or are involved in financing settlement construction. On the other hand Dutch pension fund ABP, one of the largest pension funds in the world, announced on Wednesday that after looking into the matter it sees no reason to end its relationship with three Israeli banks. Sweden’s Nordea Bank — the largest bank in Scandinavia – has asked Bank Leumi and Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank for clarifications over their activities beyond the Green Line, in what banking experts in Israel defined as a potential pre-divestment move. According to a Jan. 19 report in the Financial Times, the ABP pension fund — the world’s third-largest — and two of Europe’s biggest investment firms, Scandinavian pension fund Nordea and Norway’s DNB Asset Management Group, are also reviewing their holdings in Israeli banks. Sources in the Israeli banking sector said Saturday that the recent moves were, for the most part, only declarative in nature, attempts to make political statements, and are unlikely to come to fruition. (Source Israel Hayom )

anti-BDS postcard

A new study that debunks the myth that Israel is a liability to Europe Added Value: Israel’s Strategic Worth to the European Union and its Member States, a joint report by The Henry Jackson Society and Friends of Israel Initiative, examines the extent to which Israel represents a strategic asset to the EU. The report looks at three key arenas: military, economic and scientific/technological. It finds that Europe is more secure, more innovative and more relevant on the world stage thanks to the tools Israel provides: from unmanned aerial vehicles to intelligence; from energy to pharmaceuticals; and from particle accelerators to high tech start-up. Among the report’s key findings there are e.g thatcontrary to news reports of EU-Israel disagreements – such as European Commission directives to label Israeli goods from the West Bank – by the most important measures, the EU’s relations with Israel are closer than at any time in the Union’s history. With nearly €30 billion in bilateral trade, the EU is Israel’s top source of imports and Israel is Europe’s leading trade partner in the Eastern Mediterranean. As the European economy continues to falter, EU exports to Israel are growing by roughly 5% a year. A world leader in high-tech innovation, Israel is vital in keeping Europe competitive in science and technological. (Full report can be downloaded from my Document Library.)

Israeli government effectively succumbed to a boycott of settlements in order to be eligible for the EU’s Horizon 2020 scientific cooperation agreement, the guiding blueprints for the EU’s scientific research. Also on Jan. 2014, the Israeli flag was hoisted for the first time to join the other 20 flags of the organization’s member states, after UNESCO officially recorded Israel’s accession as a new CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire/European Council for Nuclear Research) member state.

Central Bureau of Statistics’ data indicated that Israeli exports came to $92.5 billion in 2013, despite the global recession and slumping dollar exchange rates, compared to $60 billion in exports in 2010. Broken down by blocs, Europe received the largest share of Israel’s exports (32 percent), followed by Asia (25%) and the United States (21%).

Jewish state?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said thatIt would be “absurd” to expect Israel to recognize a nation state for the Palestinian people without reciprocal recognition of Israel as the nation state for the Jewish people. But issue was first raised already 2000 (by Tzipi Livni) and later at the 2007 Annapolis Conference. Today Livni might not view this recognition as a precondition to negotiations. However in my opinion when one state recognizes another it does not imply recognition of its political structure, for example U.S. in 1933 formally recognized the Soviet Union simply as state and not as a communist or Marxist state; and when most of the world’s democracies recognized Israel after its establishment, that too was as a state and nothing more.

From Israeli point of view the meaning of the term “Jewish state” is a state that cannot be flooded by foreigners to the point where it changes its demographic character, meaning there can be no “right of return” for the descendants of the 1948 refugees. So anyone who would recognize Israel as the Jewish state as part of a peace deal would announce the de facto end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and relinquish any future demands of Israel. From Palestinian side President Abbas stuck to his intransigence on the issue of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, saying it was “out of the question.” Abbas mentioned that Jordan and Egypt were not asked to do so when they signed peace agreements with Israel.

Jordan will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the Kingdom’s foreign minister declared, expressing a latent Hashemite fear of Jordan becoming the de-facto Palestinian state. Jordan is concerned that defining Israel as a Jewish state may eventually lead to the forced deportation of Palestinians eastward across the Jordan river. According to some estimates, approximately half of Jordan’s population of 6.4 million does not hold citizenship. The massive number of non-citizens is comprised mostly of Palestinian refugees, but also war refugees from Iraq and Syria more recently. Over 3 million Jordanian residents are of Palestinian origin. Ever-mindful of a demographic takeover, Jordan has recently begun blocking the entry of Palestinian refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria. (Source The Times of Israel )

Missing Gaza question?

In my opinion question about Gaza should have been solved at early stage during negotiations. Hamas still has its grip on Gaza even weakened after Sisi’s coup in Egypt. The economy of Hamas is weakening as Egypt has closed main part of over one thousand smuggling tunnels on Gaza border; before that Hamas administration got remarkable income from smuggling activities.

Rockets are still fired from there and conflict – fights between Egypt armed forces and Islamic militants and rocket fire from Sinai towards Eilat – has more and more moved to Sinai peninsula. For example February 01st, 2014 saw the pipeline that transports gas from Egypt to Jordan being subject of a blow up by militants. The attack is the third of its type in less than a month. The pipeline that connected Egypt to Jordan and Israel has been the target of various attacks ever since the start of the Egyptian revolution in 2011 for ending the Hosni Mubarak regime. These acts of rebellion led to severe disruptions in the flow of gas from Egypt to Jordan and to a complete halt of Egyptian natural gas supply to Israel. On the other hand Israel is less affected by the damage to the pipeline given that it has since discovered enough gas off its shores to keep the natural gas coming for decades to come. Israel’s Leviathan field contains around 19 Tcf of natural gas and is expected to come online sometime in 2017 while its 10 Tcf Tamar field started supplying gas in March 2013. (See more in Realpolitik: The Energy Triangle As Game Changer For The Eastern Mediterranean )

So a new reintegration strategy is needed instead of isolation, it should reconnect Gaza with the West Bank to lessen Hamas’ grip on Gaza. Israel and PA should encourage to re-establish trade links with Gaza strengthen the moderate middle class; a transit corridor between Gaza and West Bank would help to restore the social bonds and build national consciousness required for statehood. The Palestinians want territory within Israel to build a transport link that connects Gaza and the West Bank, and this could form part of an exchange deal. All this can help politically PA to be ready for Palestinian national elections.

Jerusalem – Two peoples, One Capital?

Jerusalem is one of the key challenge to a deal and at least three dimensions should be solved. The negotiators need to delineate the territorial borders, the political arrangements (for example on the Temple Mount), and then to begin work on the security arrangements that would address all the concerns regarding the territorial and political questions. It is anticipated that the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem will be under Palestinian control.

A solution whereby Arab neighbourhoods would come under Palestinian sovereignty and Jewish neighbourhoods would stay under Israeli sovereignty is needed. Israel will have to agree to a Palestinian presence in Jerusalem to the point where the Palestinians realize their goal of establishing a capital in the city. Palestinian side has criticized Kerry for offering the Palestinians a capital in the villages of Abu Dis and al-Ram, and not in Jerusalem. Previous negotiations have also proposed a special regime for the Old City.

Jerusalem deal according Olmert proposal

Bottom line

“I hope we reach a deal with the Palestinians, if not, we’ll manage.” (Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon )

“A peace deal will ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state as well as its social and economic prosperity. If Ya’alon does not understand this, he is not fit to continue in his position, and we would certainly be able to manage better without him.” (MK Nitzan Horowitz/Meretz)

The British Guardian newspaper quoted   a “Jerusalem-based source close to the negotiations” as saying that Indyk’s negotiating team has “only have maybe 10% chance of success” in its efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. The Guardian also quoted a former American diplomat who worked on previous rounds of Israel-Palestinian peace talks as dismissing most members of the current American negotiating team as “pencil sharpeners” and “bag carriers.”

Inside Israeli government there is different views as well more or less rude critics against FM Kerry personally and about his peace plan. The outcome might even be that PM Netanyahu will remove Bayit Yehudi from the coalition and replace it with Labor, which is more amenable to a peace treaty. Labour Party leader Isaac Herzog has repeatedly stated that if the coalition lacks support for a peace agreement, Labour is prepared to act as a ‘safety net’ and pledge the support of its 15 Knesset members. However coalition crisis can occur more likely over religion and state than security.

As for the Palestinians, Palestinian Authority (PA) needs to agree to declare an end to the conflict, an end to all claims, and to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, PA needs to renounce the right of return of refugees and PA needs to agree to limits on Palestinian sovereignty in deference to Israeli security arrangements. The security arrangements need to provide an answer even in the scenario of a coup – or Hamas can win in elections too – in the Palestinian state so the key question is if Palestinian state has the will or the strength to deal with terrorism.

If negotiations again fail so from my perspective Israel could concentrate to talk solution with Egypt and Jordan (e.g. from base of Three-State-Solution) or with Arab League. And of course one option are unilateral solutions – Israel annexing Israeli populated areas officially to Israel and PA seeking recognition from international community as state. As any of these options in my opinion are worse than even worst mutual compromise and peace deal I hope all the best for further talks.

P.S:

The Facts Of Life In The Middle East”   by Avi Bell is a good description about Israeli-Palestinian dilemma – and Western hypocrisy – as follows:

The Facts Of Life In The Middle East” by Avi Bell

If Israel refuses to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it refuses to negotiate. If the Palestinians refuse to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see negotiations with Israel are pointless.

If Israel makes preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it is trying to avoid negotiations. If the Palestinians make preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians have to force Israel to be serious in the negotiations.

If Israel makes no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace. If the Palestinians make no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see that making offers of peace with Israel are pointless.

If Israel makes an offer of peace and the Palestinians reject it, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because Israel is not willing to make the kind of offer the Palestinians would accept.

There are variations on this, e.g.,:

If Arabs make war, but offer to end it, that proves that Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because the Arabs offered peace. (Thomas Friedman/Arab “peace” initiative) If Israel makes war, but offers to end it, that proves that Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel made war. (Defensive Pillar, Lebanon II, etc.)

If Arabs attack, that proves Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel provoked the Arabs to attack. If Israel attacks, that proves Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel attacked.

If Palestinians carry out acts of terrorism, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because the Palestinians feel they have no choice but to carry out acts of terrorism. If Palestinians try to carry out acts of terrorism, but Israel foils them, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because Israel is carrying out anti-terror actions against the Palestinians even while there is no terrorism.

If Palestinians don’t try to carry out acts of terrorism, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because the Palestinians are good and innocent and Israel uses terrorism as an excuse to mistreat Palestinians.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks



Minimizing Collateral Damage In Gaza Conflict

November 20, 2012

During its operation in Gaza, the Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”(Richard Kemp in the UN Human Rights Council hearing after Operation Cast Lead)

 

The role of civilians during ongoing operation Pillar of Defence is traditional one: Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations intentionally target Israeli civilians and use the population of Gaza as human shields, storing and firing rockets from within populated areas. In stark contrast, Israel does not intentionally target Palestinian civilians; in opposite the Israel Defence Force (IDF) takes extraordinary measures to avoid Palestinian civilian deaths. Israel uses early warnings and sophisticated missile defence system to protect its own population while the role of civilian population in Gaza seems again to be that of cannon fodder and their value only propagandist.

Hamas has systematically fired rockets over 12,000 at the Israeli Home Front for the past 12 years. Since November 14, over 350 rockets fired from Gaza hit Israel, many of them directed at densely populated areas. Over the past months Hamas has armed itself with the Fajr-5 missile, an advanced weapon with a range of over 75 kilometers, which places 3.5 million civilians at risk. Out of 824 rockets fired from Gaza at Israel over the past few days, 270 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system and 100 have landed in Gaza itself, IDF statistics show on18th Nov. So one part of civilian deaths in Gaza might have come from their own rockets.

Strategy of Hamas is fatal for population

The Operations of Hamas are targetted to kill Israeli civilians. Thanks to sophisticated early warning system and Israeli missile defense the casualties of Israeli civilians are small. The oposite is true with civilian population in Gaza due the fatal tactics of Hamas. Hamas (like Hezbollah in Lebanon, like the Taliban in Afghanistan and like al-Qaida and the Shi’a militias in Iraq), use their own people as both tactical and strategic weapons of war.

Hamas has intentionally used the civilian areas of Gaza as staging grounds for their attacks on Israel. Knowing that the IDF wishes to avoid civilian casualties, Hamas places its own civilians in the line of fire in order to hide and protect its own operations. Women and children, victims of the Hamas human shield tactics, usually ignore warning signals to evacuate buildings prior to an IDF strike. The victims remain in the house with Hamas members, knowing ahead of time that the IDF will not target civilians. Many innocent bystanders are killed as a result of Hamas’ abuse of its own civilians. Instead of keeping its citizens out of harm’s way, Hamas encourages and even forces its population to join the violent resistance against Israel, sometimes forcing women and children to remain in the positions that they would use to launch attacks from. Hamas used their people too on the strategic level, luring IDF troops to attack and kill them. People whose deaths would be callously exploited in the media as a means of discrediting the IDF.

There are several reasons for this: Hamas, of course, operates from within a civilian population and conceals its arsenals in built-up areas. The same is true of missile launchers, rockets and more. In addition, most Hamas militants make sure not to remain above ground most of the day. They stay in the network of tunnels built by Hamas beneath the Gaza Strip in recent years and, in effect, are at very low risk compared to the vast majority of the Gaza population. And the process of launching the rockets is extremely quick and is sometimes done by remote control, so that the ability to strike at those militants is very limited.

Israel’s strategy is to limit civilian casualties in Gaza

The following are some ways the IDF uses in order to avoid civilian casualties. While these warnings ruin the element of surprise and can help the enemy escape, the IDF believes that it must take these steps whenever possible in order to avoid harming innocent bystanders.

  1. Phone calls: During the last 24 hours of the operation, thousands of Israeli phone calls were made to residents of the Gaza Strip, warning them of IDF strikes in the area.
  2. Leaflets: The Israel Air Force has dropped leaflets over Gaza that warn civilians to “avoid being present in the vicinity of Hamas operatives.”
  3. Diverting missiles in mid-flight: During Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09, the IDF aborted many missions seconds before they were to be carried out, due to civilians being present at the site of the target.
  4. Roof Knocking: “Roof knocking” is when the IAF targets a building with a loud but non-lethal bomb that warns civilians that they are in the vicinity of a weapons cache or other target. This method is used to allow all residents to leave the area before the IDF targets the site with live ammunition.
  5. Pinpoint Targeting: The IDF, whenever possible, singles out terrorists and targets them in a way that will endanger few or no bystanders. This can often be hard to do, since terrorists prefer to hide in crowded areas. As example IDF video about the pinpoint strike on Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari and an other one (On Nov. 18, 2012, when the Israel Air Force targeted an underground rocket launching site near a mosque in Gaza. The strike was precise, and the mosque was unharmed.)
  6. In previous Cast Lead operation IDF left at least four hours’ notice to civilians to leave areas designated for attack

Israel helps patients in Gaza

One problem which civilians in Gaza have is the long standing shortage of medicines and medical supplies. The main reason is a dysfunctional relationship between the Palestinian Ministries of Health in Gaza and Ramallah. The conflicts between the two offices have resulted not only in a shortage of medicines and supplies, but also in restricted access to medical treatments for patients outside of Gaza. To help situation an Israeli State agency The Coordination and Liaison Administration to Gaza (CLA)works to ensure that patients from Gaza have the access they need to get medical treatments e.g. Following way:

  1. Of the thousands of patients that requested permits to enter Israel for medical treatments, 99.3% were approved. Patients were only denied permits when it was determined that they could receive necessary treatment inside Gaza (Sept 2012). This year (2012)more than 14,500 permits were issued by the Gaza CLA for patients and their chaperones to leave Gaza through the Erez Crossing.
  2. All the requests for medical supplies (equipment and medicine) submitted by the international community to the Gaza CLA have been approved for entry into Gaza.
  3. Since September 2012, international organizations, in coordination with the Gaza CLA, have impoted 32 trucks of drugs and medical supplies through Kerem Shalom Crossing. This has included spare parts for dialysis machines, helium for MRI machines, and three fully equipped ambulances. An additional five loads of medicine were imported into Gaza through the Erez Crossing through special coordination.

According to the World Health Organization, the process of referrals for patients from Gaza to receive treatment in Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan was suspended for nearly 10 days due to disagreements between the Ramallah and Gaza Health Ministries. As a result, a 38% reduction in monthly referrals left several hundred patients without necessary treatment. The WHO reports that due to the failure of the Palestinian Ministry of Health to pay its accruing debts to Jordan, Jordanian hospitals refused to accept government referrals of patients from Gaza. Medical suppliers are often reluctant to sell supplies to Gaza since there are issues with non-payment.

Despite the problematic security situation due ongoing operation Pillar of Defence and the ongoing rocket fire, the help from Israel to Gaza continues. On 18 November 2012, 10 Red Cross trucks with medical supplies and one UNRWA truck entered Gaza via Kerem Shalom Crossing. Two trucks have been designated as being of particular importance as they are carrying much needed anesthetics and bandages.

Media War with Pictures

They [Hamas] are putting these rockets in schools, in mosques, near hospitals, even in homes. We have pictures of rockets in homes because they not only have a military strategy. They have a media strategy. They want pictures of civilian casualties to make the front page of newspapers around the world,” (Michael Oren, Israel Ambassador to the United States)

The grand tradition of Pallywood has succeed again also with some respected medias, such as BBC, in which Palestinians on stretchers suddenly come back to life. It was usual also during earlier conflicts to bring the dead out from the hospitals in front of the cameras as victims of “Israel’s aggression”. Anybody who had died or who had been murdered for reasons of crime during these wars were brought to the CNN cameras as victims of “Israel’s aggression”

Yet another fake “Gaza” photo has used against Israel during the Pillar of Defense operation. An Arab news site called Alarab Net released the photo, which shows a family who was allegedly ‘massacred’ in Gaza on its Facebook page on Sunday, November 18. The caption in Arabic roughly translates into English as “martyred massacred family in Gaza shortly before…”

Thanks to Tazpit News Agency’s investigative work, it was found that the photo had been originally published on a news site based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates called Moheet one month earlier on October 19. On the Moheet website, the photo was titled “Syria killed 122 Friday…Assad Used Cluster Bombs.”

The original massacre, in Syria.

The “recycled” massacre, transplanted to Gaza.

And here another example where the Alqassam Brigades published an image which was taken in during the Syrian civil war weeks ago and attempted to pass it off as a picture taken in Gaza during current conflict.

Bottom line

Whatever the measures the residents of the Gaza Strip will continue to be the ones to pay the price and if ground operation starts, this price will be much higher than so far. As a result of Hamas’ strategy of using civilian areas for military purposes, it is inevitable that there will be civilian casualties in Gaza. Nonetheless, the IDF goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and to minimize collateral damage.

As a result of Hamas’ strategy of using civilian areas for military purposes, it is inevitable that there will be civilian casualties in Gaza. Nonetheless, the IDF goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and to minimize collateral damage. IDF however notes that despite all precautions, IDF forces may have mistakenly targeted sites and hurt Palestinian civilians. According IDF it is fully committed to ensuring that every allegation of wrongdoing be fully and fairly investigated, though this will happen after the conclusion of the operation.

The former Commander of the British Armed Forces in Afghanistan, Col. Richard Kemp, gives an insider view to civilian casualties in conflicts:

The UN estimate that there has been an average three-to-one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in such conflicts worldwide. Three civilians for every combatant killed. That is the estimated ratio in Afghanistan: three to one. In Iraq, and in Kosovo, it was worse: the ratio is believed to be four-to-one. Anecdotal evidence suggests the ratios were very much higher in Chechnya and Serbia. In Gaza, it was less than one-to-one.”

As example Col.Kemp probably has earlier Gaza operation Cast Lead (2008-2009). I think that Hamas has learned some lessons from this and now, if Israel goes to ground maneuvers, the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths will be considerable higher. This makes the threshold to start next phase much higher than before.
More about IDF activities to avoid civilian damages in Gaza e.g. In this IDF video and to balance my story a bit here also a view (video) from Hamas side: 

 

More about Operation Pillar of Defence in my previous article:

Hamas Miscalculated: Israel Started Operation Pillar of Defens

BlogDash


Palestinians Put Jordanian Option on the Table

November 4, 2012

Article (short version) first published as Palestinians Put Jordanian Option on the Table on Technorati.

Farouk Kaddoumi, a veteran PLO official, dropped a political bomb (on 31st Oct. 2012) with a call for “returning” the West Bank to Jordan during an interview with the London-based Al- Quds Al-Arabi newspaper. Kaddoumi, who is based in Tunisia, said he supported the idea of a federation or confederation between the West Bank and Jordan. His remarks are the first of their kind to be voiced by a senior PLO figure in decades.

Kaddoumi is one of the founders of Fatah, and for decades served as head of the PLO’s “political department.” He is one of the few PLO leaders who refused to move from Tunisia to the Palestinian territories after the signing of the Oslo Accords, which he had strongly opposed. Kaddoumi told the newspaper that giving the West Bank back to Jordan would be a “positive move.”; however he added that the Palestinians should not drop their demand for a right to return to Israel proper. He also said the Palestinians had lost hope of reaching an agreement with Israel that would ensure them their minimal rights. “Unfortunately, Israel has seized most of the lands of the West Bank and the only way left for us is the national resistance,” he said. “Regrettably, the Palestinian Authority and its president do not want any kind of resistance after they got rid of the fighters who say that resistance is the only want to liberate the land.” (Source: JPost )

Kaddoumi’s remarks about returning the West Bank to Jordan apparently came in response to recent statements made by Jordan’s Prince Hassan bin Talal, who served as crown prince between 1965 and 1999. Recently in a meeting with Palestinian citizens in Jordan, Prince Hassan bin Talal made an unusual statement, saying that the territories of the West Bank are actually part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. He added that the two state solution is irrelevant in the current stage.

The Jordanian option has on occasion been raised as a promising approach. Given some of the facts from history this is not surprising, after all, most of Jordan’s population is Palestinian. In 1948, Arab armies attacked the newborn State of Israel. Transjordan annexed the area intended for an Arab state, and renamed itself the Kingdom of Jordan, calling the annexed area the “West Bank”. In 1967 West Bank came under Israeli control during the Six Day War of 1967.

From Israeli point of view many Israelis view the involvement of the two Arab states that have signed peace treaties with Israel as central in providing security and stability in the territories from which Israel has departed.

UN bid

Since we can’t defeat Israel in war, we must do it in stages, we must take whatever area of Palestine we can get, establish sovereignty there, and then at the right time, we will have to convince the Arab nations to join us in dealing the final blow to Israel. (Yasser Arafat)

Palestinians are now implementing a diplomatic offensive to get votes in favor of their partial statehood bid, or better say in favor of giving Palestinians non-member observer status, at the United Nations. Palestinians say they intend to ask the U.N.’s General Assembly to vote on the matter on either 15th or 29th Nov. 2012.

Israel and the United States are opposed to the move, saying Palestinians should negotiate their statehood with Israel, not conduct unilateral moves. Also if a Palestinian state is established there, many fear that it would be taken over by Hamas. Last year Palestinians tried and failed to achieve status as a full member state at the U.N. Security Council.

PLO had obtained membership in the international organization in 1974. Mr. Kaddoumi made quite good remark during his interview, mentioned above, that the UN had recognized the Palestinian state declared by Yasser Arafat in 1988, adding that 105 countries had since lent their own recognition. “By going back to the UN, Abbas is falsely creating the impression that he is making achievements that were already achieved,” he said.

My view

As possible solutions for Israeli-Palestinian conflict there has been 3 (Israel, WB, Gaza), 2 (Israel, Palestine) and 1 (Isralestine) state scenarios, then of course allways easy option is a ”status quo” scenario. Here I connect three-state scenario (sometimes described also as nostate option) with Egyptian-Jordanian solution aka Jordan-Egypt option aka Shared Jordanian-Egyptian rule: Amman rules the West Bank and Cairo runs Gaza.

The three-state solution essentially replicates the situation that existed between the 1949 Armistice Agreements and the 1967 Six-Day War. Beginning in 1949, Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip, Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and no Palestinian Arab state existed. In 1950, Jordan officially annexed the West Bank and granted the Arab residents Jordanian citizenship.

Land Gained and Returned

I have been advocating long Three State Option as the most pragmatic solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For 19 years, Judea and Samaria were part of Jordan, its population Jordanian citizens, and the geographic juxtaposition between Israel and Jordan should make delineating the border between the two countries in an agreement considerably easier than reaching a deal on a border between Israel and a Palestinian state that might be established in the area. If three state solution will be implemented so Israel would receive security guarantees from Jordan’s monarchy, which made peace with Israel in 1994, rather than from a politically enfeebled Palestinian president as well from Egypt, which has peace deal with Israel since 1978, rather than from outside supervised Hamas.


As Egypt now is opening Rafah border crossing and when its current leadership better cooperates with Hamas it would be easier than before logistically and politically annex Gaza with Egypt e.g. as autonomous province with cultural and economical independence. Annexing Palestinian West Bank areas similar way with Jordan could decrease Israeli security concerns and hence allow smaller buffer zones and less fragmented area for Palestinians. Once the three-state option is reality the work can begin of building infrastructure and maybe even freedom, democracy, and the rule of law in Egypt and Jordan. (More e.g. in
The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict )

An excerpt from historical background of disputed territories

I generally ignore Israel’s biblical rights (e.g that the borders of Israel in accordance with the divine promise in the Bible: from the Euphrates to the river of Egypt) related to Judea and Samaria aka Westbank but as they explain one part of Israeli’s arguments today I would like to mention from historical rights the era of tribal periods when the Israelite tribes lived as a confederation. The Torah traces the Israelites to the patriarch Jacob, grandson of Abraham, who was later renamed Israel. Jacob’s twelve sons “Israelites” (also the “Twelve Tribes” or “Children of Israel”) means both the direct descendants of the patriarch Jacob/Israel as well as the historical populations of the United Kingdom of Israel.This united monarchy was established in around 1020 BCE when the tribes united.

 David, the second King of Israel, created a strong unified Israelite monarchy in c. 1006 BCE and also established Jerusalem as its national capital 3,000 years ago. Beginning in the 5th century BCE, the remnants of the Israelite tribes came to be referred to as Jews.

Contemporary history gives more relevant view to present conflict. From Israeli point of view the legal rights to the land are based to the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the League of Nations San Remo Conference of 1920. The geographical area called Palestine was to become a homeland for the Jewish Homeland. The land was administered as British mandate. Britain split off 75% of Palestine to establish the Emirate of Transjordan split off 75% of Palestine to establish the Emirate of Transjordan on the eastern bank of the Jordan river. This part is now known as the modern Kingdom of Jordan. The Peel Commission of the late 1930’s endeavored to partition the western portion of the original Jewish Homeland into Jewish and Arab mini-states, the latter to mollify Arab rioters fomented by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al Husseini, an close ally with Hitler during WWII.

In 1948, Arab armies and volunteers – from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Morocco – attacked the newborn State of Israel. Transjordan annexed the area intended for an Arab state, and renamed itself the Kingdom of Jordan, calling the annexed area the “West Bank”. Egypt took over Gaza. These areas controlled by Jordan and Egypt from 1948 to 1967 came under Israeli control during the Six Day War of 1967.

As a result of the 1978 Camp David accords – in which Egypt recognized the right of Israel to exist and normal relations were established and Sinai was returned to Egypt. A peace treaty was also made with Jordan and which officially renounced its claim to the West Bank in 1988 when the late King Hussein announced his kingdom was cutting off its administrative and legal ties to the area.

Some of my related articles: